Sometimes I don’t write for a while. For a long while. Sometimes I have to take a break from what I do, unannounced, and without warning. This isn’t because of some horrible calamity in my close friends and family, isn’t because I live with a chronic autoimmune disorder, and it isn’t even because of the upheaval of moving house. Generally, it’s because I struggle with improperly managed mental illness.

I work hard to maintain an appearance of high-functioning manageability. I’ve developed elaborate mechanisms to present an outward appearance of “normalcy”, to a point that I’m both proud and terrified of it. It’s been said of me that my crazy fits in the overhead compartments- a compliment that is unintentionally double-edged. The problem with being able to put up these sorts of façades on an everyday basis is that I have to keep them up constantly, which takes an immense amount of energy. Letting them down becomes harder and harder, as I do it less and less, and the effort required means once they’re down- it’ll be a while before I’m able to get them back into place. It is in that interim that I am at my most vulnerable.

An idea of the meds I'm taking, or supposed to be taking, on a daily basis. Not counting multi-vites or pain meds.Why don’t I just “go get help“? Oh yes- help. Celebrity spokespeople about mental illness just love to tell you all about how getting help was a pivotal moment in their lives. How it’s OK to have a mental illness, just- go get help. Well that’s just fine and dandy, person with money and time, but it doesn’t exactly work that way. For those of us who are poor[1], “help” isn’t that easy. Options are slim. I, personally, have been attempting to get back into some manner of regular therapy for a few years now. I’d been going to the local queer counselling centre, who had a sliding scale and where I knew my lifestyle choices wouldn’t be pathologised, but I kept getting re-assinged new counsellors every few months as they finished their degrees and moved on with their lives. This meant I had just enough time to start to open up to them before I was thrown back to start again- do not pass GO, do not collect $200.

I started working with DSHS aka welfare to try and get help. Then the sequester happened, and state budget cuts, and the funding for helping me find help disappeared. I reached out to the therapy centres which specialise in my illnesses- bipolar, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and compulsive disorders. I’ve been on their “3 month long” waiting list for 6 months now. They also don’t offer a sliding scale for their fees. A lot of private practices don’t offer sliding scales, and those that do have so many people trying to become new patients that waitlists range from months to years. Trying to get into an intensive programme or go in-patient is just as hard. Even if you “play the game” as it were and exaggerate your symptoms[2], they still aren’t guaranteed to take you. Beds are few, resources are limited, and even suicidal/homicidal ideation doesn’t make you a shoo-in anymore. Your best bet, if it applies to you, is to get in via an addiction recovery programme. Folks with what’s known as “dual diagnosis” have a far better chance of getting treatment, as substance abuse programmes get more funding and support, and are a lot more prolific. They often provide mental health support or can fast-track people into the therapy they need in the hopes of helping prevent relapse. If there’s ever been a time in my life that I’ve regretted managing to beat my addictions on my own, it’s been now.

So where this leaves me is going to local community health centres or clinics, and getting the bare-minimum of care. I generally have to go in knowing what meds I need, and hope that they clinic will renew my prescriptions. A lot of low-income friendly healthcare offices won’t fill or write scripts for many of the medications used to treat mental illness, due to their controlled substance axis ratings and perceived street value. I say perceived street value because while I understand that technically Xanax has a street value, my dosage of 0.125mg 2x/day is so low that I’d have to sell a few months worth at a time to get any sort of profit. A lot of clinic doctors aren’t familiar with some of the off-label uses of various medications currently being used to treat bipolar or resistant depression, nor those used to manage the side-effects from the primary medications. This leaves me short some medications that I should be on, using less effective medications than I could be using, and paying a lot more for them than I ought to be due to being uninsured.

Sad, depressed, exhausted, insomnia-addled, Lorax.So sometimes I just can’t focus. Other times I’m lucky if I can get myself out of bed and go to work. There are weeks when I forget to bathe, and days where I forget to eat (or go to the bathroom). There are times, like what I’ve been dealing with lately, where my moods are cycling so rapidly that I’m experiencing a different dominant mood every 15 minutes or less. My insomnia gets worse and worse, despite double-doses of Ambien I still find myself awake until dawn and then waking at 8 or 9am whether I want to or not. I have periods where I lie face-down on the floor, unable to get up, because I’m sobbing so hard and I do not know why. My instincts trend towards passive-agression and self-sabotage. I rationalise actions which will make me more and more miserable, because then at least I would have a reason to feel like this. It’s difficult to feel sexy at times like these, let alone be objective and present during jerk-off sessions. Partnered sex becomes a something I crave and fear at the same time, uncertain of where my emotions will take me. I try not to make major decisions, I pull inward, and I start looking for hugs and forehead kisses more than blowjobs and spankings.

And so, there are times when I don’t write much. There are times where even my tumblr goes silent, and my twitter becomes more conversational, less sexy, and more emo. Photos of my cat become more abundant, and I use her reliance on me as a grounding tool to keep me present and from making rash decisions. Sometimes I overcompensate with porn. I don’t mean to disappear, and I think about writing a post very much like this one but up until now I haven’t. I fear the cultural stigma against being batshit crazy[3]. I worry that I’ll be perceived as whiny, or as attention seeking. I’ve decided that I’m just going to put this out there, finally, because I’m currently battling this harder than I have in a very long time, and while I’m trying to force myself back into writing I don’t know where things will take me. I know I’m not alone in this but it’s something that at least for me specifically, only I can really do anything about.

  1. As so many mentally ill individuals are, often as a result of our mental illness impeding our ability to be employed like a “normal” member of society []
  2. Which is the only way I’ve known of anyone to successfully get into treatment in any sort of timely manner []
  3. Which is a term I use for myself, and rather prefer over “mental illness” or somesuch, but that’s probably because I like bats and I’m self deprecating as fuck []
  • Loretta

    My meds cabinet looks the same as yours, but mine is spread out all over the bedroom floor. I have to step over it to go ti bed. It should bother me, but it doesn’t. And that kind a scares me. Night times the worst for me. Everyone else sleeps, and I have stay up with my stupid random fucked thoughts. By the time they get up in the morning I’m completely fucked. But they don’t know. I hide it well. I’m a writer too, not as good as you, but I try. I’ve been to countless psychologists and their big brothers, psychiatrists, both did fuck all. Oh, except tell me I was fucked. Hello, I already knew that. Just wanted to let you there is someone more fucked up than you out there, hopefully you can take some solace in that. You and I just think on a different level to everyone else, that’s why we are a little crazy. Its not a bad thing, its just the way we were made. Damn genetics, can’t all be perfect hey, who would the beautiful people have to make themselves feel good about their perfectness. Sending loads of love your way. Your loopy friend Rhett.

  • Angela

    I have a mental illness too! I’m on a cocktail of medications. I’m about to take my eight” bedtime meds” in about twenty minutes so I don’t go crazy o.O I am so, so broke but my mom makes me go all out when it comes to my meds. My psychiatrist isn’t paid for by insurance so I have to blow $200 every month to see him, and then there’s the cost of meds.

    I totally get it. You’re not alone and I’m actually really happy that I’m not the only sex blogger with that problem. I spent my life going in and out of treatment and making my mom, and now me, live in debt.

    One of the best things that happened to me was being sent to a partial hospitalization program to keep me out of the hospital again. It wasn’t covered by insurance but it sure as fuck was cheaper than going to the psych ward again. Next time your unstable you should look into that as “maintenance” (so my mom calls it).

    I have a smorgasbord of diagnoses but the one that is controlled by most of my meds is bipolar. I have rapid cycling, too. I’ll go up and down within a matter of hours, half hours, days. I’m sorry you have to live with that too, it sucks, but I just do the best I can. If you can take out a loan or something of the sort, then it’s well worth it. My mental health is the biggest part of my life, it’s so darn maintenance :P but I spoil it because it’s me and it’s what deserves it the most. My bipolar has been totally stable for two years now and so I spoil the shit out of me to make sure I can stay this way. It just means l don’t get to eat out or buy unnecessary clothes, I’ve had to make a lot of sacrifices and ALL of them are so, so worth it. You are too.

  • Mad Amrita

    Darling Lorax, I too suffer with bpII rapid cycling and anxiety disorder MPD/DID and chronic severe depression and ADD and PTSD not to mention i have MS lol1 grrl i FEEL your pain! but you keep on going cause i know i luv ya and lotsalotsaLOTSA others do too! you are role model for me and a top notch writer and product reviewer. thx for being you, u pdown or otherwise oriented! much love Madame Amrita

  • Pantophile Panic

    I admire you in many ways. Although I will never know what it is like to walk in your shoes I do sympathize with some of your struggles. Chronic illness is absolutely exhausting- to say the least. I was able to relate to a lot of the things you wrote here. You are so brave for writing and publishing this article. I would give you all my spoons if I could. You deserve so much better than what cards life has dealt you. Thank you for all the hard work you put into this blog. You are an amazing writer and educator.

  • Derp

    I am a mental health therapist and I struggle to get mental health care.

  • We live in a society where we’re afraid to be authentic in case we appear {insert something not seen as a norm}. We also live in a society where, when we hear a person being authentic and it’s not shiny happy stuff, and we don’t know what to say, we say nothing.
    So what I’m trying to say is that I don’t know WHAT to say, but I’m commenting because I think you should know (if you don’t already) that putting this out there is important. The more mental illness is talked about, the more it can be normalized.
    And I’m sorry you can’t get the help you need. It really fucking sucks.

  • Robin McClanahan

    I’ve only just started reading your blog, but I feel compelled to comment because this resonates very strongly with me. I have struggled with getting adequate mental health care for most of my life. I know the feeling of going into a clinic and asking for a controlled substance because IT IS THE THING THAT WORKS, and being terrified of being turned away and forced to withdraw from necessary medication. I recently had a cortisone shot in my back to try to calm down some debilitating chronic pain, which instead tipped me back into the nightmare world of dissociation, from which I had been largely free for many years. And there’s not much I can do about it because my physical health takes up so much time and energy these days.
    I’m so sorry to hear that you’re struggling with this. As you said, you’re not alone.
    Also, I alternately refer to myself as batshit, bugfuck, and crazy as a shithouse rat. Because every new shrink I get gives me a new diagnosis, so I’m fucked if I know what’s wrong with me, except that I’m crazy. So not alone there either. ;)
    Fist bump of crazy person solidarity?

  • You are loved.

  • Rebecca Hiles

    Thank you for posting this. As someone else who has a lot of similar feelings, I often feel super guilty for not posting for longer periods of time, and then I fall into a hate-spiral where I feel guilty for not posting, and then hate myself for being so fickle, and get angry because I feel like I’m never going to be able to get my career started, which makes me feel guilty for not posting until I’m curled up in a ball waiting for the room to crash in.

    Anyways, I’m rambling. Thank you, and I hope that things get easier for you.

  • Sarah

    I wish I could do something to help. Thank you for being honest and opening up.