When you live with depression and anxiety it’s just possible that you might be the only one who doesn’t understand.
Recently, I’ve been lead into thinking about those of us who haven’t recognised they have an illness and as a consequence spend all their time pissing everyone off.
Putting it tersely, people living with depression and/or anxiety and/or bipolar and/or PTSD can spend a lot of time thinking that no one ‘gets’ them. That, whatever their mood or behaviour it’s everyone else’s responsibility to ‘get on board’. To accept them for who they are. And, whilst in a holistic sense I agree that all people should be accepted for who they are, I also believe that those, with an illness that impacts the people around them as significantly as emotional disorders do, have a responsibility to seek out treatment.
There’s no denying that living with someone who lives with depression and anxiety can be a particularly tough gig! It’s not just the illogical thoughts and unreasonable behaviours that madden and frustrate our friends and family, it’s also any apparent unwillingness to do anything about it. To be honest, if someone had a broken leg and refused to seek treatment, demanding that everyone around them be responsible for helping them get around, deal with the ongoing pain and manage the ongoing physical effects we’d be very quick to get upset with them for not seeking out appropriate treatment.
Don’t get me wrong, if someone is opposed to treatment for philosophical reasons, I don’t expect them to seek it out. However in this case the philosophy should include limiting the impact of your illness on those around you.
It’s very easy for those of us dealing with the symptoms of depression et al, to refuse medical treatment but who are we expecting to pick up the ball?
Mr Wonderful has often picked up the ball for me when I’ve hit a wall. As have friends and family who have sat by and watched extreme symptoms ravage my ability to think and do. It’s impossible to avoid the wall when you’re living with depression and anxiety. Like all biological things, there are a number of ways our bodies can react to internal and external factors. These factors can disrupt our stability and the effectiveness of medication leading to a need for tweaks or improvements in type or dosage of the medication prescribed. It’s all part of the parcel that is emotional illness.
The trouble is, when we remain unwilling to seek treatment for a (usually) treatable illness we make demands of the people who love us that aren’t always fair. Frankly even when we are seeking treatment the demands can be excessive. However, just because we have an ‘unseen’ condition, we do not have the right to expect others to rescue us from our unhealthy behaviour when it’s as a result of our unwillingness to seek out help.
If when you consider the decisions you’ve made or the things you’ve done, you believe they are not the decisions or behaviours of a ‘reasonable’ person it’s a fair indication that something’s wrong. If you’re continually relying on being rescued from your junk or expecting others to submit to demands that when viewed objectively would be seen as illogical, hurtful, disruptive or destructive, something might be wrong. When the only people that are willing to support you are immediate family or social workers it’s possible there’s a problem. And, if these problems are because you’re living with an emotional illness and refusing to seek out a clinical diagnosis and appropriate treatment, you’re not meeting your part of a deal that includes the ability to interact (no matter how limited) in a healthy way with the people around you.
I’m not suggesting that all ‘inappropriate’ or ‘destructive’ behaviour is the result of an emotional illness. Frankly, there is such a thing as stupidity! There are also circumstances outside our control, that can have significant effects on our emotional health. However, emotional illness and mental health have definite symptomology and are usually quite obvious to members of the medical profession.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that unless you have impaired cognitive functioning, that is that you are intellectually compromised; there is no reason for you not to seek out a diagnosis and treatment. Even if depression and anxiety are not your problem, you might find a correct diagnosis and treatment for other conditions that will considerably improve your quality of life.
This week from Aleksandar Hemon: The privilege of a middle-class, stable, bourgeois life is that you can pretend that you are not complicated and project yourself as a solid, uncomplicated person, with refined life goals and achievements.
If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Deb Shugg is an awarded businesswoman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety. To contact Deb click here.
Read more of Deb’s BLOGs about living with depression and anxiety click here.
If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor.
(Abuse of another person is NEVER okay. If you are being abused or, if you are an abuser please seek help.)