Every day I am more and more aware of just how much electroconvulsive therapy took from me.
Beyond remembering my own personal endeavors, It took the memory of every birthday my child had, his first days of schools, our vacations, our lazy Sundays, it took all of it.
All parents forget things that happen as their children grow, in fact I imagine they forget more than they remember, but then they are reminded and often say “Oh yeah, I forgot that.”
But my memory, much like my body, is completely resistant to jogging. The memories are simply not there anymore.
And, you know what, it was still worth it and that’s even counting the fact that the relief ECT gave me is long gone, and that ECT stopped being an effective treatment for me, and that I am currently still struggling with this disease.
Parenting involves lots of trade-offs, sometimes parents work more hours than they would like to so they can afford things for their children, or (gasp) because they enjoy what they do and want their children to see that their parents have a fulfilling life.
My trade-off has been losing most of my memories I’ve made with my son in order to remain alive to make more. Deal.
Anger turned inward is depression,
anger turned sideways is Hawkeye”
– Dr Sidney Freedman, MASH
What do I hope for when I talk about mental illness?
I know what I don’t hope for.
I don’t hope that people will think I’m saying my life is harder than theirs.
It is not.
It is a different struggle, one that I want to help demystify.
I hope that by sharing my struggles it will help me to understand what is going on even more.
I hope that it will make those embarrassed to live with mental illness, feel a little more comfortable.
I hope that it will make those who don’t fully get it, get it a little bit more.
I hope it will make people ask questions, reach out, reach into themselves.
I hope it will remind myself that we don’t need permission to be vulnerable, that it is not a deficit, that being vulnerable doesn’t mean you’re being a victim.
I hope that people will understand while it is nothing I’m ashamed of (most of the time,) it does not define who I am, and I can’t wait till it is less a focus of my life.
I hope that people get that mental illness is not a personality trait, that it is a disease, cause as personality traits go, I’m a pretty fun time.
And for myself, I hope that I can believe all of this, that I can let go of people not getting it or opportunities lost because of my openness, because there is so, so, so much more in the win column of sharing