Communication is one of the most important aspects of a relationship, and is even more important when the relationship involves a person who lives with a mental illness. How do you describe what you are feeling when you don’t know how or why you feel that way or you just don’t feel like talking?
As I described in my last couple of posts, I have been experiencing episodes of anxiety and feeling low lately. I find it really difficult to express myself to other people and to explain that despite it being summer and a time where one would usually want to socialize, I just want to hibernate. I don’t feel like talking. I feel irritated. I’m tired and emotional. I am restless and indecisive. I am just not up to seeing people, even close friends, and having to explain to people why I’m acting the way I am. It’s one of those JUST LET ME BE states.
In the best of circumstances, I am not a decisive person and I am even less of a decisive person when I am in this mixed state. This means the answer to any question you ask me is, “I don’t know.” This of course is very frustrating for others as they may think I am just being difficult, when I literally don’t know what I want/where I want to go, or whatever it is they expect me to answer. One of the biggest fights that happens is regarding where and what we are going to eat. Because I have food allergies, I am already restricted, and because I don’t feel like cooking I am sick of certain places/takeout options, so if you ask me that question, the first response you are going to get is, “I don’t know, what do you want?” The conversation then becomes a game of what I can and can’t eat and where I will and won’t go to, and then the line I hate is said – “Oh, here we go again,” meaning, “Melanie is being difficult and indecisive,” and I take it personally, and all parties are frustrated!
I am not doing it on purpose! It just is easily misinterpreted as bad behaviour. This is why communication is so important – you don’t want your loved ones misinterpreting your behaviours as “bad behaviours”.
And of course, communication is important because you don’t want your family and friends to think you are rude or being mean when you are in the “leave me alone” mood. I can’t expect everyone to know exactly what it feels like, but I can hope that they understand enough about me to know that the moody, cranky person on the outside is still a nice person on the inside. I can also hope that they know I am not doing this or being this way deliberately. I’m only human.
About Melanie Luxenberg
My name is Melanie Luxenberg and I am finally ready to live openly with mental illness. I was first diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder in 2003, which I still experience. At the same time, I was diagnosed with Social Anxiety (which I also still experience), and then briefly experienced Agoraphobia. I have had depression on and off since I was 13 years old. In July 2010 I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder II. Shortly after it was realized that I experienced rapid cycling. I can experience multiple cycles in a week. Despite my diagnosis, I completed a university degree and then a college program. I have always held stable employment, regularly taken my medication and regularly attended my doctor’s appointments. There have been times of hopelessness, but I have always found support from my family, husband and 3 dogs. I am a law clerk, social media/content writer and of course, mental health advocate. My Twitter feed is full of mental health advocacy messages. I hope one day to see the end of stigma towards mental illness, because stigma has to stop!