On Qualifying Myself

I have had two acute manias with psychotic features, two dark depressive episodes, and a handful of hypomanic behavior with rapid cycling. Anti-depressants don’t work for me as they induce mania in me. I have found balance of my moods and freedom from the voices with lithium and a small dose of Abilify. I don’t ususally like to talk about meds because everyone responds differently to different ones.

Whenever I talk about my illness, I qualify myself by talking about all of my accomplishments. It as if I am saying I may have this but look at how good I am, look what I offer society. In a perfect world, my illness and my accomplishments would be separate. I wouldn’t have to use one to reinforce the other, to secure my self-concept. I am married happily, I have two Master’s degrees, my BA in journalism is magna cum laude, been published widely, I have held good jobs with the opportunity to do great things in the world. My illness has threatened all these things. I take my medication and use a self-care toolkit designed by me with help from mental health professionals to ensure that this doesn’t happen.

I tell people I work for myself, which is what I do now. I blog. I am writing a book, a memoir about mental illness. I take other people’s projects like annual reports (writing/editing only), web sites (copy only), and articles for publications. I devise ways I can create an enterprise with my blog and my other web site by creating merchandise, e-courses, e-books. None of these things are good enough for my mother. She doesn’t understand mental illness and is in denial about my own. She thinks my mental illness was a phase like my sexuality confusion as a teenager. She says hurtful things to me about my lack of a job, when in fact I am working hard planning a business of my own. Esme Wang, who is a schizoaffective writer and author, and Susannah Conway, an author, writer and photographer, are my business inspirations.

Does anyone feel this way out there like members of your own family and community don’t support you when you are trying hard to work?

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