Good News, Bad News

Mental Illness sucks. People not knowing you are sick, sucks. The junk in my mind that thinks other people are judging me, sucks.

We finally got our rears in gear and got a cleaning service to come out. Today they are here and I have the relief that the place will be really clean, and stuff is picked up. I SO need this environmental therapy! Having a straightened house has always helped me cope and feel better about life.

Symbols I'm Pondering: What's the Price of Clean?

On the other hand, I’m here while the women are cleaning. I could be going through my schedule, but it’s embarrassing to try to do a little cleaning or a little activity, then have to sit down and rest for half an hour, while the professionals are here working through the house without tiring. Instead, I’m sitting on the couch, trying to hold a thought in my head, warding off a headache, knowing I’m sick, but that it’s invisible. And I’m wondering what the women think of me.

I don’t appear sick, (hacking cough, or illness paraphernalia around) and so I feel this weird class difference of upper class woman doing nothing while paying lower class woman to clean her house. Having been on the other side of this relationship, I know that I’m paying for their labor, and their health. And I know some of the conversations that happen while you care for another woman’s house or children. But it’s different when you know someone is sick , really sick, and cannot care for their house. There is a measure of compassion in the work instead of only a monetized class-difference transaction.

So, I feel double amounts of shame. Shame that my situation appears like a class transaction, and I don’t like that. I wish my illness was visible so I could be the recipient of some compassion in the situation. I could use some compassion, seriously. But if  people knew the illness that I live with, there is the all-too-common response – the stigma of mental illness – and the shame that goes along with the stigma when people say, or act as though they are saying – “Just get up and do something” or “It’s all in your head” or just plain “That’s not a real illness. Call me when you have cancer.” Shame.

Are these thoughts just in my head, or are they also going through others’ minds? Am I working myself up into a tizzy, or just feeling what’s in the middle of the situation?

Probably both. Mental illness sucks. Its invisibility sucks too. Stigma sucks.

9 responses to “Good News, Bad News

  1. I experienced some of this with unemployment – there’s a stigma and at the same time a desire to be productive with no ability to do so.
    And the depression (of whatever degree) that goes with unemployment directly produces the fatigue.
    I don’t know what you’re going through, but through those experiences of mine I feel a little synergy. It’s not just you.

    • So, true, Mark! It is a vicious cycle. I’ve seen it and so often with folks who are unemployed, and those going through life transitions, including myself. Depression is terrible. I’m surprised how different it feels this time to be so stuck. Ugh!

  2. Deb, I’ve been there, both in a severe postpartum depression and after an equally invisible chronic illness diagnosis. I hear you. From the other side, though, remember in this economy, working is good. 🙂 Next time, how about a serious-looking book to read, or at the very least hold? Could that provide some cover, enough to help you through the time they are present? In my experience, having a clean house was enough of a lift (or removal of additional discouragment) that it was worth the discomfort. Hugs to you.

  3. Your computer can cover a multitude of “relaxing” moments. The cleaners don’t know what you’re doing, even if you’re only playing solitaire! And who cares what they think anyway.

    I know you’re also pining to go the #unco11, but we need you to get well so you can come next year. Last year, I didn’t get to go and I spend the whole time jonesing to be there. We’ll remember you.

    I’ll be passing through Chicago on Sunday afternoon changing trains at Union Station. My son is going to come eat supper with me. Then I’ll be back through on Thursday morning – again changing trains. I’ll wave when I’m there. If you feel well enough (and Dave is okay with it) I’d love to see you, but don’t feel obligated. Just remember to wave towards downtown when I’m there, and you’ll probably see a little flutter of a wave coming back at you.

    • I so wish we could have met up at #unco11, but hope it will work out next year. Or if I’m in Dallas again. I’ll wave at you on Sunday and Tuesday as you pass through!

  4. Honey,

    EVERYBODY feels weird when they’re home and the cleaning lady is there. It’s not a depression thing. But good for you for taking care of yourself, because that is what you are doing. My mother would LOVE for me to have someone come clean my apartment.

    And yes, it is wretched having an invisible illness with a stigma. The best thing–tell the people you trust. Because they CAN’T see it. So they won’t know. It’s a process that you’ll be working through the rest of your life.

    Also…everyone has scars. Those of us with mental illness just have a different kind, and we HAVE to deal with it. Which is a blessing–some people don’t have to take care of their scars and so they don’t. Keep getting healthy.

    SL (also known as “little miss bossy.”

    • Thanks for the comments!
      Depression made it worse than before when they have been here, since this time I felt like crap but couldn’t do anything about it, besides the anxiety that everyone feels.
      Good advice about telling people you trust – they can’t see and can’t know unless I tell them.
      Sadly I have plenty of scars, most of which need attention, and they are invisible – chronic pain from back fusion 22 years ago, a hysterectomy I’m still processing, the mental illness. I think the weight of all this invisible stuff to live with and process has gotten the better of me. *sigh* Still working on getting better!

  5. What frustrates me is how many still assume things like bi-polar, major depressive disorder, general anxiety disorder, ect. are moral issues. Just make the right choices and you’re ok! So you are perceived as lazy and irresponsible. While I am accountable for my actions during different phases of mental illness, I can’t be responsible to change all of that stuff. What I can be responsible for is getting the right treatment and continuing to take the meds that keep me sane. Bi-polar simply goes into remission. With the right treatment you are able to stay on the beam – that’s all. Meds don’t “cure” it, they make it manageable.

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