Do you like dark clouds, thunderstorms, cracking lighting, and heavy rain? I know some people who do but I’m not a fan because it causes me a lot of anxiety as I’ve gotten older. I’m always fearing the worst like housing damage and power outages.
Although it’s unlikely to happen, it doesn’t stop me from panicking as (I feel) my brain is hardwired to fear the worst.
Since childhood, my friends and family have dealt with their own dark clouds. Not the dark clouds that bring thunder and lightning but the dark clouds of mental illness, worry, stress, and high anxiety.
What I’m about to say is not a woe is me moment or a feel sorry for me moment. This is a list of friends and family who are suffering or have suffered from their own dark clouds.
· I suspect my father suffered from bipolar disorder before he passed away over 28 years ago.
· My brother has suffered from bipolar since the early 90’s and has tried to take his own life on multiple occasions. I haven’t seen him in over 20 years.
· Almost two years ago a friend of mine took his own life without warning due to depression.
· When my parents divorced it was extremely tough of my mum because my father put her through living hell. It took her a while to get her life back on track afterwards.
· My son is in the autism spectrum and is battling his own mental demons.
· Early childhood trauma my sister has suffered, on top of life’s trials and tribulations periodically sends her in a deep dark spiral.
Mental illness and dark clouds has played a huge role in my life since early childhood.
Why Bring This Up?
After going to therapy for over a year now, the way I look at my life, childhood and the people in my life is different. It is like looking at the past with fresh eyes. Even writing the list above, it’s astounding how many people around me who have suffered or are suffering from mental illness.
It makes me wonder why I’ve been exposed to mental illness for most of my life. There must be some meaning in there somewhere. and I’ve been wracking my brain to figure it out why.
Whether you’re directly or indirectly affected by mental illness what I’m about to say may or may not ring true. It is only my experience and your experiences might be different. If they are, I’d invite you to leave a comment below after you’ve finished reading.
My Experiences With Mental Illness
Note- I’ve never cared full-time with a person with a serious mental illness or worked with them. These are observations from the sidelines.
Here’s some random thoughts about being around people who are suffering from various forms of mental illness.
No matter how close you are to a person, you truly have no idea what they are going through if they keep their dark clouds to themselves. Some people have a tough time expressing how they feel and rather than explain it, they keep it inside.
It’s hard to separate all of a person’s behavior from their illness. My brother and father hurt me badly, mentally, physically, and emotionally. I’m never sure if they are to blame or their bipolar is to blame. Both are intertwined and hard to separate.
Mental Illness is often hidden by alcohol or drug abuse. People who are suffering want to numb the pain, not face it or just forget about it. Self-medicating is real, and it has its own set of problems. I’ve seen this up close and personal.
When a series of bad events happen to someone and their state is already weakened, there is only so much they can take before they break. A person’s mental state can only take so much.
I find myself getting frustrated and angry with family and friends when their behavior is not their fault. I know it’s not their fault, but it doesn’t stop me from getting upset at them anyway.
Truly I don’t know why there should be any stigma attached with mental health seeing how commonplace it is, particularly in the time of COVID. Whether you believe in the pandemic or not, people’s mental health is taking a battering, including yours truly.
We all need to be more empathic and compassionate with people because we truly don’t know the dark clouds they are suffering from. If you or a friend need to talk to someone, here is a good start.