The Disability Of Mental Illness

As I await response on whether my disability will be denied or extended (and please, no horror stories about how yours was cut off, because I know it can happen to me and it just makes it all worse, freaked out enough) I’ve come to ponder the question:
Is mental illness truly a disability?

There is a huge difference between having a singular diagnosis which responds well to one medication and stabilizing or spending 20 plus years of your life on a never ending medi go round because you have so many diagnoses none of the meds will work in concert.
You get a little better. You slide back. You go manic. You slip into a months long depression. Rinse, lather, repeat. Now toss in the fact I’m only “functional” for about four months of the year (used to be spring and summer) and there are days when the anxiety and paranoia have me literally ready to physically launch myself at someone who sets me off…
I’d call it a disability.
What does an employer want more than anything from an employee?
Stability. Half the time they don’t care if you have the IQ of pocket lint. If you show up as scheduled without fail and mimic doing a half assed job…You’re golden.
If you bounce off walls, excel, then for months sink into this slovenly tear streaked “hiding in the bathroom” trainwreck who can’t complete a simple task to par…It doesn’t matter how skilled or smart you are.
You’re unstable.
You don’t meet criteria one for employment.

With other disabilities, employers will make concessions, accessibility, compromises. If you use a wheelchair, they obviously don’t expect you to stand. If you’re diabetic and need to dash off because your blood sugar’s gone wonky, they don’t fire you for being a flake. If you have cancer and aren’t feeling well due to treatment, they won’t castigate you for calling off or throwing up on the floor.
(And no, I am not saying mental illness is worse than cancer because any chronic illness sucks equally for the person going through it.)
I’ve never had a job where I got “mental health days”.
“I can’t stop crying and I think people are going to attack me so I may need to stay home to avoid ya know, getting violent.”
“I’m manic and thinking it’d be a good idea to table dance at work while demanding dollar bills be stuffed into my bra, perhaps today is not a good day…”
“My meds make me too groggy to be coherent.”
“My others meds are making me nauseous and I have to throw up every five minutes.”

Oh, nooo, those are not legitimate reasons. It is not an illness to employers, or for that matter, the general populace.
You are weak, lazy, making excuses, you don’t want to grow up, you don’t want to take responsibility, you’re milking the system…
Anything but facing the fact that mental illness is real and it can happen to anyone, including the naysayers. If they acknowledge that it might be contagious and put them at risk.
So suck it up and quit being a baby.
(All the while your fight or flight response is on high alert, you’re terrified, and can’t think straight so you assume the fetal position in a stock room-true story)
Nope, not at a problem at all, when your mind is all fucked up. Totally capable of rational thought and reaction.
Hey, here’s an idea. Hire people drunk off their asses, stoned out of their gourds or hopped on drugs. Then see if they can do a good job.
Because like it or not, mental illness is like being under the influence. Your reactions, your thoughts processes, coping abilities…it all hinges on your brain interpreting situations correctly and sending the proper impulses to respond in kind.
No more than one can “talk” themselves sober, a mentally ill person cannot talk themselves out of imbalanced brain chemicals. We may learn techniques in therapy to minimize or at least postpone some meltdowns, but for every one of those, there are ten failures. To fail in front of others and have your intelligence questioned when the problem is illness, not a matter of smarts, is insult to injury.
If my brain processed things properly so I could respond properly, I’d hardly call it a disability. It’d be an annoyance like my allergies.
Te fact is affects every aspect of my life, including the “fun” stuff, tells me it’s no affectation, no dramatization. I have twenty years of records to prove something’s off kilter.

Wanting to be stable and make a contribution and have some self esteem is not the same as being capable of it. It seems like a matter of positive thought and rah rah rah I CAN do this.
Until you live inside a mind with its circuits crossed.
Then you realize how futile it can be. You fight your hardest and have more failures than wins. It takes a toll on your self esteem, your motivation, even your hope for things to improve.
How is it not a disability to never be in your “right” mind?

In fact, the notion that anyone can say a long standing history of mental illness without any long periods of stability isn’t a disability only proves their own ignorance.
Big difference between being on Prozac for six months due to the blues or whatever or spending your entire life balancing a multiple diagnosis, battling your own mind, dealing with med after med that doesn’t work or quits working or has horrendous side effects. And it is truly horrendous when the very meds that “correct” what’s causing the bad input then affect other normal aspects like appetite, weight, sex drive, sleep, lucidity…It’s a constant trade off.
And it makes you want to go off the meds just to remember how you should feel, in case there is something wrong that isn’t a side effect from the meds. Not to mention the manic episodes when you’re pretty sure you’re cured and could solve world hunger while riding a pegacorn over Atlantis. The mania convinces you that you’re happy, all is better, fuck the pills.
It’s an endless cycle.

And it is not WHINING.
Mentally ill people just want what we were born without that comes standard issue for most. Normal brain wiring. There’s no fun in constantly feeling like you’re in danger and can’t breathe or that life isn’t worth living and you should kill yourself and solve it all.
We want to NOT have such thoughts constantly.
Because if someone roofie’d you and you were held accountable for your actions and called a whiner…You’d be pissed.
We are at the mercy of our disorders.We live with the fallout, even though technically, we’re generally in altered states which leads to bad choices and bad behaviors. Like being drugged.

Our brain is pretty much the epicenter around which everything stems and it is the brain that directs everything to work in concert.
If the brain itself isn’t doing its job properly, how can we be expected to perceive things properly to keep everything working right?
One bad fuse, in our case, faulty wiring, can take an entire car down.
Is it so far fetched to view humans as such?

In closing…
NONE of us with mental illness want to feel this way. We don’t want the stigma, the judgments, the “looks”, as if we’re going to eat your young and spit out the gristle or something because mental illness means “bat shit violent crazy lock them up in the rubber ramada”.
Our thoughts get distorted. Through these distorted thoughts, our bodies react, with fight or flight, terror, breathing problems, stomach problems, ability to focus.
No different than any other illness that affects your ability to function “normally”.
Except we will never be cured or in remission.
We can only keep trying to be stabilized and riding the roller coaster of that is mental illness.

Next time you want to roll your eyes and scoff as mental illness being a disability…Remember a time when you were drunk, high, on pain killers, coming out of surgery and feeling out of sorts…How would you feel, if in that altered state through no fault of your own, your entire worth and intelligence was judged based on your inability to be coherent, walk a straight line, stay awake…All things you’re perfectly capable of when not under the influence of something.

No one wants to be judged for things out of their control.
It’s not shirking responsibility, it’s just facing that due to whatever twist of fate…We do not have the level playing field others do in which to make informed choices at all times.
Cut us some slack, please.


24 Responses to “The Disability Of Mental Illness”

  1. No horror stories here, still playing their game,,, I’m just wondering, when did you file originally? Rebloging

    • I was actually approved back in 2002. This is my third review since then, which I submitted in February. If it’s like last time they will keep me in suspense for six months. I’d tried for it for years prior to ’02 but it wasn’t until after the reaction to Nardil that scrambled my brains it actually went through. Guess they think I am miraculously going to cure bipolar and regain all those brain cells that were fried.

      It’s okay. If they deny me I am just going to start some fetish porn site. Maybe wear big red clown shoes and slop around in cream corn for a punch of perverts. At which point I will snort Comet, shoot up Drano, and probably end up dead or in the wacko basket. Once I explain the clown shoes and cream corn, I may just be reinstated 😉

      I gotta have humor about it or I’d go off the deep end.

      On Sun, Apr 26, 2015 at 11:38 AM, Take a Ride on My Mood Swing wrote:


  2. Reblogged this on dianetharp70's Blog and commented:
    Originally written/authored by ‘Take a Ride on My Mood Swing’

  3. Reblogged this on Me: Finding the Missing Pieces and commented:
    this has gotta be shared! thanks.

  4. Reblogged this on SassaFrass, The Feisty and commented:
    This is our daily struggle, it’s not a choice to be this way. Lovely post. ❤

  5. Great post, well written and articulate. I found myself nodding my head along with your points. I will never forget the time when, after my second hospitalization in 2001, I finally got my disability, and my parents chastised me for “being on the dole.”. That did wonders for my self-esteem, of course. I found it strangely satisfying when, ten years later, he found himself too ill to work, and experienced the frustration of not being able to do the work he loved. He did kind of apologise then, in a way. What keeps me from doing any job now is the roller coaster you describe so well–never knowing from one moment to the next what it’s going to be. And I see no point in the whole thing. People get on my case with the whole God thing, but why would God create a perfectly intelligent, talented, motivated person with multiple degrees (manic) and all sorts of accomplishments, and at the same time chronically suicidal, trashing relationships, losing jobs every two years like clockwork… Living in perpetual boredom yet unable to commit to anything or finish anything because the ADD meds kick off the mania… Then there’s the stigma, where if you go to a doctor for anything physical they immediately assume you’re imagining it and only want opiates, and they give you a lecture and shoo you out of the office without even looking at you. Grrr.

    • My dad refers to my disability check as my “nitwit” pension. Thus ensuring his place in my world as very ignorant, not to mention rude.
      Support counts for a lot but my family and friends are all of his mentality so…I blog. A lot. Cheaper than therapy.
      And even after my kid was born, I turned down all drugs except prescription strength ibuprofen. I don’t want to be any less lucid than I already am, that’s just asinine, ya know?
      (Never edit without glasses on.

      • Argh. Not to be disrespectful, but one of you is a nitwit and it’s not you. Once my diagnosis became clear, my family and friends evaporated, and my only friend was, and is, my therapist. Pretty lame, but that’s the way it is. Blogging does help immensely. Our wonderful mental illness community of bloggers is a huge source of support. I’m thankful for that. In the days before the internet I was totally alone, with no one to share with, no one to even discuss things with, because of stigma.

  6. I’ve had my blog private — for my eyes only — for a couple of months now, due to depression, anxiety, and feeling like I don’t have anything worthwhile to say. But this post is so wonderful, I am tempted to make my blog public again just so I can reblog it. I’ll have to think about it. Wow this is good. So true, so right, so validating.

    • It’s hard to put all your vulnerabilities out there, but it’s also so wonderful when you find a community like the one on wordpress that lets you know…You are not alone. You are not making this up. And yes, we understand. So whether you are private or public, just keep in mind there are many of us going through this. If it helps, do like I do. DON’T write for the sole purpose of “do I have anything important to say.”
      Write from the point of view, “This is how I am feeling and it’s important to me.”

      • Thank you! I can’t tell you how helpful this is to me!

        I am also writing a memoir — trying to, that is — and I used “focusing on writing my memoir” as my reason for hiding my blogs. But the whole truth (which I did not want to acknowledge, even to myself), was that I became very depressed and overwhelmed with anxiety when our dear companion dog, Lady, died unexpectedly in my arms back on March 10. She had been with us for over 8 years and was like our child. Funny, smart, sweet. I have never been so deeply attached to a pet in my life. Oh how I miss her… and in my terrible sorrow, and guilt over wondering if she might have been saved if only I had noticed sooner that she wasn’t breathing right, I have felt like I was unraveling ever since…. losing my mind… AGAIN.

        This post of yours gave me permission to go ahead and unravel if I need to, and not beat myself up for it.

        I have been telling myself that I “shouldn’t feel this way” over “just a dog.” I have been telling myself that we all die, people, animals, everyone and every living thing, this is the reality of life and I need to just suck it up and grow up and Get Over It. I have also been telling myself that I ought to be far more mentally stable by now, because I have had almost 5 years of good therapy and I have read literally dozens of therapeutic self-help books. I am now in my early 60s, I am a great-grandmother, for heaven’s sake, so it’s high time that I stop feeling, and behaving, like a scared little girl!

        But… emotionally, I still so often feel like I am only about 12 years old. Twelve is the age I was when the worst traumas happened in my life. Then, when I was 14 — way back in 1967 — I had a post-traumatic breakdown and was diagnosed with schizophrenia, which was the default psychiatric diagnosis of that era. And that was when my abusive mother jumped at the chance to get rid of me by putting me in a state mental institution.

        Two years later, a new psychiatrist decided that I was traumatized, not schizophrenic, and he released me from the insane asylum. I stayed away from mental health people for the most part, until I was stressing over a midlife divorce. Today my diagnosis is severe Complex PTSD, depression, and anxiety. PTSD wasn’t an official diagnostic label until 1980, and even then it was years before the psychiatric community recognized that non-military civilians could have PTSD, too, after going through traumas like childhood incestuous abuse and having a mother try to gas the whole family to death. When I had my adolescent nervous breakdown, the standard treatment for mental illness of any kind was to lock you up and throw away the key. So I have lived with the stigma — especially in my family of origin — and with the daily struggle of trying to navigate life while mentally and emotionally challenged — for almost half a century.

        Your post was exactly what I needed to read! I’m going to read it again. And then I’m going to see about getting my blog back up, and re-post this.

        Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I am wishing and praying for all the best for you in this stressful time. I hate that you are going through this. I hate that so many of us have to go through this.

      • Uh…. sorry for going on and on. When I’m stressing, I am either mute or I’m talking and can’t shut up. Which is why I was diagnosed and treated for bipolar when I was in my forties… But… for the past 12 years I have been diagnosed and treated for severe PTSD, depression, and anxiety, but not bipolar. Who the hell knows… my mind is f-d up, that’s the bottom line.

      • It’s fine, we all do our rant thing and venting is good. Mention of your dog just made me think of a couple weeks back when I had to bury one of my new kittens. She was born with a defect so her brain was too big for her skull and after three weeks of her fighting it and be mobile, I thought maybe she can be the odds…But to no avail. Bad enough being depressed and questioning whether life is worthwhile. When something fights that hard to survive and still dies…It shakes your faith. So I relate.

        On Mon, Apr 27, 2015 at 1:22 PM, Take a Ride on My Mood Swing wrote:


      • I’m so sorry about your kitten. ((HUG))

  7. alfgarnet Says:

    Shared with the comment ,,, reblogged hit nail on the head ,

  8. Reblogged this on Tessa Can Do IT! and commented:
    I agree 100%.

  9. To be honest I can’t think of anything to say other than ‘Respect’ because anything else would fall dramatically short of the insight and truth of this piece

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