Icebergs in paradise
I'm mentally ill. I have experienced paralysing anxiety, panic attacks, psychotic depressed episodes, sustained depressed periods, slight hallucinations, flashbacks to things i don't remember, hospitalisation, suicidal urges for over a month, as well as insane happiness, but i like that so it's not the same.
After a few different diagnoses they've finally decided i'm bipolar. It makes sense to me. I've always been a bit too emotional; i've always had a huge up and down.
I take meds (but i hate them) and attend therapy for at least three hours every week. I exercise daily. I'm vegan, don't drink caffeine or alcohol, don't do any drugs, don't eat any processed foods. Those are the psychiatric, psychological and lifestyle methods for controlling my illness. I'm doing Year 12 and am going okay. But sometimes i feel all broken inside and i write about it, because it makes me feel better. That's what i'm doing now. It's hard not being able to trust your own mind. To feel like you're losing it, that you're not the same.
My younger sister has anorexia. It's getting pretty bad. She has been attending a day program, but it doesn't appear to be working. She may be hospitalised soon. I think she experiences anxiety too, and low self-confidence. She channels her problems into her eating. She isn't anorexic because she wants to be skinny for skinny itself. She wants to stop herself from growing up.
I worry so much about my sister, but oftentimes my sadness expresses as anger. I can't understand, sometimes, why she's doing what she is to herself, to us, to my parents. But then i have to remember, it's the illness, not her.
But you know what? We're a comfortable middle class family who are renovating and extending their house, have two cars, a swimming pool, and go to the coast every summer, overseas or very far interstate every spring, and enjoy a few smaller interstate holidays every year. My parents don't work too much, but their joint income makes us not rich, but quite comfortable. Mum and Dad put us children first. We have beautiful little brothers. We have all four grandparents, and they are all healthy. We have gorgeous little cousins. We have a loving extended family, with not one divorce or scandal. We know who all our relatives are. We go to different but equally supportive and excellent, schools. I've always gotten quite good marks, and my sister has always been quite smart too, and very good at sports.
She's beautiful. People tell me that i'm hot. My parents, they adore each other. They have never had a fight. Daddy does a lot of the housework. He's fit. He's sweet. He loves us all so so much. And Mummy is supportive and beautiful and sweet and loves us too.
It goes deeper. My parents have never been overly strict. Our house has always been highly democratic. I have such an excellent relationship with them, i can tell them about anything---even things most people just won't talk to parents about. Like sex, or drugs.
Both my sister and i have wonderful and long-established friendships with people who are truly beautiful inside and out, care about us, and are very talented. My parents have never forced or expected me to do anything. They encourage me to grow and develop as my own person, as they do all my siblings. They have never been pushy. They're quite bohemian. And oh yes, we have an established social conscience as well. We volunteer as a family sometimes. We're very environmentally aware. We're Catholic, and have faith, but are very lax about the rules of religion. I've never been forced to go to church, or believe something. It's not like we're rich, and it's not like it's perfect. There have always been some issues with my parents' parenting, but they're not major. We're not the luckiest, but we're lucky.
I come to this website and read stories from people with lives so much more messed up than mine. And i understand, i am so lucky. If only because i come from a stable, loving home. So why, i wonder, are my sister and i so royally fucked? Nothing bad has ever really happened to us. We've had cushiony, comfortable lives devoid of any struggle, other than that against our illnesses.
It makes me feel bad. Why can't i deal with everyday life, when my reality is so much more bearable than that of so many people around the world and around Australia? I wondered if anyone else is mad at me for it? And what happened, what went wrong, when the formula is all correct and the facade so peachy, to make my sister develop a serious eating disorder?
Comments / Feedback
You have nothing to worry about at all save for yourself and your family. The structure sounds great. It is never a case of being lucky, as we all have been dealt cards to play in life, some good, some bad. Ok maybe you have a few bad cards, though they are yours and you own those particular cards, just as those born into poverty, single parents, fractured families, and outback communities do.
I want you to own yourself. Life is about living and yours is about to start. promise you won't look back, and just don't rush forward, it will all come to you as life is supposed to. I imagine youre 17 or around that age, you have an heck of a lot going on in life, as well as the HSC, now...... Do Not Sweat That! I feel you'll do well.
As for your own personal crisis re mental health OK..... Sure at your age this can be a very polarising scenario as with your sister, more so at 17. In 10 years time you will understand, and see that more than half of people have some sort of depression or anxiety issues including drugs and alcohol. I promise you, things always seem worse at this age of yours. please just always remember that life is for living, that mental illness can manifest as quickly in teenage girls as it will disappear with cognitive therapy as your 3 hours a week. It won't be like a monkey on your shoulder forever, and if it does continue, seriously, no one will ever judge you in the society you will inherit. It will be the normal rather than the exception.
In the eyes of the law you are near an adult. tough call I know though if you wish there are many people you can find whom will help you troubles with getting to your sisters anorexic diagnosis. Often someone who knows her inside out can unlock this key. As we now have professionals prescribing god knows what to 4 year olds with ADHD and missing the diagnosis by a mile, you might be yours and her salvation. Youre smart, well read and educated, love your family, have it OK in lifestyle the rest often can take care of itself. I only hope you are one of our future kids that really puts back the "human" into humanity. Indeed I have a good vibe it will be something great you achieve in life, even for your own satisfaction. If things get bad do call lifeline or see your GP. My best to you.
re your sister's condition I have a friend who suffered the same illness in adolescence. she is now well and truly over it. she in fact now suffers from being overweight. she got through it thanks to supportive family and a good G.P. and hopefully, given the description of your family life, your sister will in time do the same.
stick to your therapy, keep up the healthy eating habits you have and don't whatever you do give up on yourself. given your age (I'm guessing around 17-18) and your attitude I believe you have a great future ahead of you. stay positive and very importantly, keep writing about it. that is exactly how I dealt with it when first diagnosed. to this day i still do the same thing and it still helps as does having good people around you to lean on when you need to. sounds to me like you already know that part though.
All the best to you. I hope life turns out as good as it possibly can for you and remember to never ever give up on yourself. if you don't give up on yourself you will find that others won't either. also one other thing, when it gets to being really bad lifeline or kids help line are truly good things. they are staffed by people who are trained to help and will if you let them. all the very best to you.
clearly your sister experiences anxiety in many forms, and so do you. you mentioned flashbacks to things you don't remember. It makes me wonder if you are having blackouts as part of extreme mood states ie you get manic and do something you wouldnt normally then as a result you feel guilty and block the memory out... or whether you are blocking out the memories for another reason. not to alarm you, but i know of quite a few people who experience the same kind of mood and anxiety issues that you have listed, who also come from seemingly perfectish lives. they wonder why everything is so bad. they also experienced blackouts. about 10 years later they started recovering memories of abuse which ended up explaining why they had such bad mood states and psychotic symptoms.
It is not uncommon to experience psychotic symproms as a result of abuse, and it just makes me wonder if you have explored that posibility as 'flashbacks' usually dont come from many other sources in my experience. It is also common for people to block out memories of abuse as a way of coping. I hope for your sake that what i am suggesting is not true, but it may be work looking into, at least try to record your flashbacks somewhere safe to give you a better picture... best of luck