INVISIBLE ILLNESSES, MY STORY
This is my mental health awareness tattoo. I got it at the same time as the Pusheen tattoo that went horribly wrong. Thank God this one is OK.
It's on the inside of my right wrist as most people get them there. It is placed in such a way that it's right side up when my arm is down - most people get it the other way around.
For the most part mental health issues are not visible to the general public and many suffer in silence, as there is a stigma that society has placed on the mentally ill.
One in four people will be effected by some form of mental illness in their lifetime. The older you get the more likely it is to manifest. In fact in people over the age of seventy it's common for them to hear things that are not there. For my Mom it was often Christmas music of all things.
Personally I have Schizoaffective Disorder. Before I was medicated I used to see and hear things that where not there and to me they where very real. With medication I still hear things but I have an understanding of when it is real and when it is not. The sounds that are not real are always literally coming from inside my head now.
Without proper medication I may have been dead or institutionalized or even homeless by this point in my life. I'm extremely happy to live in a place where I can get proper treatment if and when it's needed and it does not set me back a big pile of money. Health care, including mental health is covered in Canada.
It was a bit of a struggle to get on the right meds and what not, but in the end I am mostly functional in society. I am still quite disabled due to physical limitations and social anxiety that make it impossible for me to work.
When I am in public there is an even change that if I'm not with people I trust, I will be in fear of the people around me. The louder the room is, the worse it will get. I have had to leave a few places as I could not tolerate it. I can and do feel anxiety when I'm with friends, but it is balanced by the good feeling of being with my friends.
Sadly the worst situations for me fear wise are in a crowded waiting room. So when I go to the doctor or wait hours to be seen in the ER, I end up in almost blind panic. Most of the time I can use mental distractions I have learned to deal with it, but it is to the point I could not do any kind of a job.
If I was in a work setting, I would have to concentrate on the task at hand - this would make it not possible to do the mental tricks I know and work at the same time. It would not be looked upon well to just up and run out the door for example.
I have done small tasks for a small amount of money on my computer for people at home. This is in a controlled setting and the stress is manageable because I'm at home and it is for a short time only. If I had a deadline and had to work for hours at a task for someone else, I would not do very well at all.
The strange thing is, I can sit here and do my own thing for hours on end and not have any issues from it. It only seems to happen when I have a task given to me from others. But if it's a short task or one I can take a couple of weeks on I'm also fine.
Still there are the physical limitations. I can't sit at the computer for hours. I have to get up and move around and sometimes lay down for a while threw-out the day.
Going for coffee with friends is a managed level of stress as my friends comfort me. But the physical tole of being in a chair for 3 or 4 hours causes me a lot of pain in the end. It will literally take me the entire next day to get well again after this. But I desire the interaction very strongly and to me it's worth the pain.
I have actually pushed past my limits out for coffee several times and a friend had to say to me "I think it's time for you to go home". This is great that they will know I'm in distress and need to go home, even if I want to stay longer.
Some days are better than others and some days I've had to stay home as I just can't manage the physical stress on my already hurting body. On a good day I can actually manage 5 hours before needing to come home and lay in bed.
I have panic attacks when I'm alone as well, but they are less strong most of the time and don't last long. They go in cycles by the way. For a while I'll be fine to go out among strange people then poof it's back. I've tracked it for a long time and I can honestly say there is no triggers. It just happens out of the blue and stays for a while then vanishes for no reason.
In any event, please try to be accommodating to those you know with physical and mental illness that is not always visible. The worst thing you can do it try to force them to do things - they need to do them on their own time. And always understand, they know their limitations, you don't.
By the way I physically suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. At times even the fact I have clothing on is painful to me. I have become very good at not showing pain, just like most people who suffer chronic pain. But we can always tell one and other from the eyes - they eyes always show the pain. We get used to hiding it because it's more easy to hide pain than to explain it to people who don't understand or can't understand.
Have a pleasant day and keep smiling.