TRIGGER WARNING ## SUICIDE PTSD & OCD##
PLEASE TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF FIRST.
Hello Dear Reader,
World Mental Health Day (WMHD) is my favourite campaign, along with RUOK day and the Out of the Shadows. This year the ABC is showing a series of documentaries and shows on living with mental illness, I find these very triggering so I don’t watch them to save myself. However, I have it from very reliable sources that they are excellent and offer a powerful insight into what it is like for those of living with mental illness (for my Aussie friends here’s the link http://iview.abc.net.au/collection/423 ).
WMHD also reminds me of those I have lost over the years to mental illness. The pain of knowing that they suffered so much that death was the only way out, weighs on me heavily. Could we have done something? Or was the small window of opportunity missed? What can we learn and take with us to try and get it right next time? How do we honour their lives? Do we find a way to contain the grief and use that energy for something better? I certainly hope so.
To be honest with you Dear Reader, it is with great frustration to me, that my ideas and thesis are currently gathering dust, while people and their families are suffering. Don’t get me wrong Dear Reader, I am not proposing that I have the cure-all, I am a scientist not a god; I do however have another tool for reduction and prevention of suicide. I just need the chance to develop and get it out into the communities that need it.
As a mental (and proud of it) myself, I feel my brothers and sisters pain. I agonise over their suffering. Yes, this is a part of my OCD and yes, it could be interpreted as me being “unstable” and in need of intensive treatment; but I put it to you my Dearest Reader, that if I can channel these feelings into something that is productive and positive, then aren’t I better off being unstable? It is because of the weight of this emotional burden that drives me to work so hard. The need to shed and ease the emotional pain I feel almost constantly. From the moment I determined I was going to get into uni, I have been bloody-minded about not just talking about trying to change things, but actually be brave and do it for my peeps.
Over the 3 years of my undergrad, I wanted to quit a lot; especially when I was triggered by diagnostics in 3rd year. That was a tough class for me. Not work wise (I already knew DSM-IV before I even started my degree. Yes, I am that much of a Geek-Lord) but listening to lectures on OCD and PTSD (and how narrow their definition and understanding is) was just a mine field of trigger points. I didn’t quit. In the end I would have a tantrum (read: OCD + PTSD episode) and work my arse off to get across the line. I tried to channel the anger (at least I think it was anger, naming my emotions is not something that comes naturally to me) into my thesis and later into my experiment. I was so focussed that I researched and wrote a theoretical thesis, executive summary, and presentation of my findings in 13 weeks. Again, I put to you Dear Reader that is was because of my OCD and possibly my PTSD that gave me the ability to complete and pass all my course work and write a 5000 word thesis.
Note the word ‘because’. We use this word so flippantly in our everyday language we often forget the gravity of it. ‘Because’ in this context means it would have been impossible feat for me without OCD and the focus it has gifted me. Moreover, I wish to note that I didn’t use ‘in spite of…’ as that implies that I only battled against it. And this is where my paradox enters <insert dramatic music> when I confess (Hello OCD!) that I did battle against a lot of the more cursed aspects of my OCD. A prominent example would be intrusive thoughts about failure and death.
I know I am always saying this, Dear Reader, but OCD/PTSD/MDD is a gift and a curse. The curse is dark and cruel but the gift is so extraordinary that it should be celebrated.
trying to reconcile and accept the curses has kept me up at night. It dawned on me not long ago that if I took away the curse, would the gift remain so extraordinary? Is this another paradox? Is at the heart of it, you cannot have one without the other, no matter how much you dissect and hope that you will find a space where you can be just Extraordinary. The symbiotic nature of the relationship is so great that one can be defined by the other. Extraordinary.
Does this also mean that if I am ever able to be ‘cured’ of my afflictions; I would no longer be me? Would I lose my gifts? The very constructs on which I perceive to define me? If yes, maybe I’m better off with the proverbial devil I know.
The good news is no one knows what the future holds, that’s not even written yet, so for now I will remain an extraordinary mental and Geek-Lord.
I will continue with self-experimentation (my theory on comedy for depression is coming along nicely) and I will continue to try and be grateful for my gifts and try and shorten the visits from the curse.
Dear Reader, I leave you with this, if you love someone who does or may have a mental illness be kind and reach out to them. Even just sending a text of “I love you” has the potential to save a life.