This is one of the best presents I've ever received. And yes, it's a real hoodie. With hearts and rainbows and loud colours, alongside a wonderfully bold statement. I suppose you need to understand my humour - and stance on how there needs to be more of it when it comes to mental illness - to appreciate it as much as I do. If you can't laugh about being bonkers, then it's a sad, sad day. Even on the saddest of days - especially on the saddest of days!
Although I've lost the majority of my memory due to a brain injury after too much shock therapy, I have boxes and boxes of journals from a period of about seven years, quite a few of those years were spent locked up in psych wards. I am a mental health advocate, and I do take offense to some inappropriate uses of diagnoses (one of my biggest pet peeves is when people use the word "schizo" as an adjective for something a) out of the ordinary or b) that has two distinctive sides - seriously, when are people going to learn that schizophrenia is not a split personality disorder?), but I really do think there is room for humour in a world where there is generally little. In my journals, I wrote about every single person I met in the psych ward: from catatonic schizophrenics to manic patients with grandiose ideas of breaking out of the locked wards to the "regular" suicidal depressives. Like me.
In spite of the fact that I didn't believe I was born in 300 B.C. or that I had a child that was a turtle stuck in Russia or was being followed by the entire crew of "Men In Black," I was more or less the same as everyone in there. Sad, confused, scared, misunderstood.
You have to have a sense of humour when you're locked up. There is really no other way to survive it. So, receiving a hoodie from D like the one above makes me smile. She got it for me on one of my anniversaries of being out of the psych ward - excellent landmarks in my life. I don't think I could ever wear it out of the house, but it is one of my pieces of clothing.
There is this great group that travels around Canada called Stand Up for Mental Health. I've had the pleasure of seeing them perform live. It is a stand-up comedy group which was created by a therapist (who has a mental illness himself) as a type of therapy for people who have a mental illness. I think it's remarkable and the people are incredibly brave.
Here's a taste - it's worth a look:
I'm on my third day of a two-week staycation - my first time off work in a year. Last year, we went to Maui. This year, the money is going into the house, D has already taken time off work over Christmas, and I am taking my "vacation" alone, which, in all honesty, can be risky.
I have a tendency to shut myself in, not leave my house, and get fixated on silly things. And it won't be until five days down the line when my hair is so greasy I could cook with it, and I'm scaring myself away with how bad I smell, that I recognize that "hmmm... maybe this isn't the healthiest for me to be doing."
Having been severely depressed, I have had many years of feeling safer indoors. Not needing to talk to people, not needing to fake it, just being miserable in my own skin... I thought I was doing everyone - especially myself - a huge favour. Misery loves company, and though I hated my self (and wanted to die), it was easier that going out in the world.
Once, when I was living in a house with seven other people (that could only technically house three, but we were all poor), I locked myself in my bedroom and played computer games for five days straight. I left the room to go to the bathroom, and I think once or twice to get some bread from the kitchen.
That was almost 10 years ago, but when I'm alone in the house, I can feel myself slip. Not to that extent of pure isolation (which is near impossible when you live with your spouse), but there is a pull to lock myself away. So, today, I am actually going to shower, take out the garbage and maybe even go to the bottle depot. I might even stop for groceries. Hell, maybe I'll even go to the mall. Ugh. Maybe not.
I'm better now; I'm healthy. But I wonder if that pull to disappear ever does go away.
I hear stories of women who have just given birth, who don't leave the house and don't shower for weeks. I can see this being me... but where is the line between being unhealthy and just being a good mother?