Mental Illness: Fever Of Unknown Origin

Fiction. Reality. Both mirror each other in many ways.
I just watched a show where a serial killer was targeting the mentally ill. He viewed it as mercy killing because anyone with bipolar, borderline, schizophrenia et al has the potential for violence and live miserable lives in general.
In light of my current state….
It makes me want to scream I AM NOT MENTALLY ILL.
Denial to eliminate oneself from a targeted group seems a fairly natural reflex (even if threat is fictional.)
It would be a lie. I don’t like being mentally ill. I spent many years denying it. But if the true meaning of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome…Maybe learning to accept my own limitations and faulty wiring signifies I’ve broken the cycle and stopped the true insanity.

For all that we have become, as a so called prozac nation, the ignorance is still rampant about the mentally ill. The stigma attached remains as if mentally ill people should all be placed in an isolated colony like lepers. Because if we aren’t dangerous and wearing tin foil hats while walking naked down interstates, then obviously we’re not really ill but in the event we are and it might be contagious…
I think one of my biggest issues is the blanket notion that mental illness is a synonym for “dangerous” or “violent”.
In my case, I am so panicked by conflict, so determined to use my brain instead of fists, I’m far less a threat than most of the non mentally ill people i know. They have zero qualms throwing a punch or committing a full out assault. But they’re not mentally ill and they were made angry so it’s okay for them, they don’t get labeled as dangerous.

I don’t think big pharma or pill pushing doctors or even malingerers who think a week of being sad equals chronic depression are the problem with the mental healthcare system. (What little one we have that is affordable and competent to those of us not rolling in money and excellent health coverage.)
The biggest problem is plain old ignorance.
Information and knowledge are power. Yet I see very few people out there with any true power based on their utter lack of information and knowledge on mental illness.
If you want to know about mental illness, you can read some literature, some case studies. You can get sage answers from yahoo (note the utter sarcasm). But if you really wanted to learn and be educated…You’d ask someone who has a mental disability.
They are the only ones who can tell you what it is like to walk in their shoes.

I don’t see it happening, though. So much misinformation and ignorant attitudes are out in the world, it would never occur to those not in the know to directly ask a mentally ill person, “So, what’s it like? Do you hear voices or do you see aliens dancing the chacha while juggling tiki torches…”
Ok, humor break there, but point remains the same.
My former husband had a condition that formed tumors randomly inside and outside his body. I read the literature. I read his lengthy medical files. And then I asked him what it was like for him. You’d be surprised how the same conditions impact each individual differently. Literature and science cannot account for what one’s personal experience is.
Physically or mentally.

For me…I equate the bipolar disorder and all its ever changing episodes to having a fever. You know when you get the flu and have chills even though you’re burning up and you’re hungry but can’t keep anything down and your entire body aches and no amount of rest makes you feel less drained…And of course, you can’t talk yourself out of physical illness and most wouldn’t even have the audacity to suggest it. It would be, “Get some rest, take care of yourself.”
The instant it’s run its course, you eventually spring back to good health, fever gone, appetite back, body thermometer working properly.
And it stays that way until you catch the flu again.

That’s exactly what bipolar is like for me. When I am sick, it encompasses every aspect of my existence. It courses through me like a fever of unknown origin and it can last days, weeks, months.
Stable periods indicate it’s run its course and I can get back to life.
But like sickness of the body, sickness of the mind revisits and it takes a toll on every aspect of your existence.
So if you don’t have a mental illness but want to understand..Think of it that way next time you get the flu. How worn down, achy, uncomfortable, unable to function properly you are while sick. Then how nice it is when it clears your system and life can resume as normal.
Just imagine having the flu forty weeks of the year.
That’s what bipolar depression is like.

For me.
I won’t be arrogant enough to presume it’s like that for others. I just know for me, it doesn’t matter how functional my body is…A sick mind sending out the wrong signals that taint every thought and action….is no different than trying to function at a hundred percent when you’re running a fever of 104 and can’t keep food down.
All you can do is try your hardest and let it run its course.
At least with the body those fevers of unknown origin can eventually be traced down to a cause and dealt with.
With mental illness…You just go through life wishing your mind was as strong as your immune system. Being sick once or twice a year is way better than spending three quarters of the year with a debilitating illness.
Functionality for one quarter of every year of your life is not optimal.
It is for me, however, reality.
I go through life with raging fevers of unknown origin and my recovery periods are brief and few and far between.
I think I’d prefer chronic physical illness sometimes.
No one questions physical illness.
No believes mental illness because they can’t “see” it.

Fever of unknown origin. I don’t think there’s a more apt description for bipolar disorder.


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