Asking for help in itself is hard for most of us. Asking for help with the symptoms of a mental illness seems impossible. There is the stereotype that still runs through our society that somehow a person with a mental illness is weak or damaged. That they cannot take care of themselves or have chosen to have this. They are just not fighting enough.
Then a person goes to the doctor. For me, I was told that within 3-5 years that I would feel better. It has been 16 years and I still feel as horrible as on day one. Even to get to the right medications took months. Sometimes the side effects would make me feel worse or cause new symptoms to creep in over the first few weeks. Give the medication time the doctor would say. I do no need time when I know that I feel worse.
My body was no longer my own. It began with the medications. Then came the sleep routines, the mediation, the ECT, and with that the memory loss. My brain was now trapped behind a barrier. I was no longer in the drivers seat. Just a passenger in a car that did not have a final destination.
The doctors do not say that your friends will feel so confused about how to treat you, that many of them will politely bow out of the friendship. They do not say that your spouse will be overwhelmed and feel like they are helpless, causing them to leave. If there are kids and the mental illness is severe enough, the system will make sure that you lose them unless you have 10’s of 1,000’s of dollars. Divorce, loss of children, loss of friends, loss of self, and a constant pressure that just gets worse over time because you are expected to be well. Somehow all of these things miss what the doctor says. Reducing symptoms is sometimes not possible and some people are treatment resistant, causing them to live in limbo.
For me, the doctors missed a lot that I wish that I had known. Maybe I could have prepared myself or at least knew the reality of the future that I was facing. B