How do I manage my illnesses? I go to my psychiatrist for tune-ups when I need it, and otherwise keep regular appointments with her. I go to my therapist as needed, and at one time was going weekly after my last hospitalization. The truth is…I don’t do all that I’m supposed to do all of the time. Why not? Because LIFE. I’m honest about it. I know what I’m SUPPOSED to be doing. I know what I did to get healthy. I know what I have to do to stay healthy….just sometimes, I don’t do those things, for various reasons. It shows up in my mental health.
As patients come in and out of the hospital, it may be frustrating to see the cycle. It may seem so simple to the average person. Just take your medicine. Go to your doctors. Why is it so hard? Because LIFE. I understand this. I am married to a very supportive person. He takes over the household responsibilities when I’m not doing well. If I have an exhausting day, he’s there to cook dinner for my two children, while he gives me time to rest. Not everyone has that.
I don’t always eat healthy meals, like I’m supposed to. The other day, I ate an Arby’s sausage biscuit for breakfast, a double cheeseburger from McDonald’s for lunch, and Taco Bell for supper. I’m still alive somehow. I don’t always get enough sleep, like I’m supposed to. I get too busy to make appointments with my therapist when I need to go. I try to be Super Mom to my kids, a Band Mom to 48 high school band kids, and work full time. Who has time to go to doctors, even if the therapist will see me on Saturday, which he will? That’s not an excuse, or shouldn’t be for me. It is incredibly easy to forget that I am not quite like everybody else, as much as I like to feel like I am. I can’t short-cut my health, or I might end up hospitalized again. Bipolar I is a serious mental illness, and I have it.
Medicine gets stolen (truly). Cars get flat tires and appointments are missed. Life gets overwhelming, especially when the mentally ill person has no one supporting them. It takes work to be a productive person who lives a self-directed life if one has a serious mental illness. Sometimes, despite good intentions and efforts, forces beyond the person’s control may keep the person from doing what he or she needs to do to become healthy. If you know someone with a mental illness, giving them a little support might make a world of difference.
Rebecca Coursey, KPS
Peer Support Specialist