Getting out of my comfortzone and tackling stigma

So today I step out and get my hair done. Why is this significant?

The reason is twofold. Firstly I have a wedding coming up tomorrow which I’ll blog about on the day and secondly I realised that I’ve been homebound for a month now. When my sister came to visit over the past weekend, we got out a bit which helped. I think her visit with her fiancé helped lift me out the last bit of depression, like that last glorious pull of a cigarette. I don’t smoke, but you smokers make that last puff look irristable.

It’s amazing how depression has this funny way of hitting you at the shins- stopping you dead in your tracks. I spent all my time in bed, only getting up to load washing. I usually have the energy to show off and hang it up as well. I showered when I needed to. I showed love upon request. I felt bad about that. My children love me regardless of that. My eldest knows when I’m about to enter depression and becomes very affectionate. He should know, he knows me all his life. The other day he placed his hand on his chest and then on mine. “What’s that?” I asked. “My heart. I just gave it to you mommy.” The inner part of me melted instantly. Later the evening he pissed me off again but it didn’t matter.  I had his heart.

I remember with my hospital stay in March sitting in a general ward sick with the same awful depression. I sat with three other women, all with their own ailments. One lady with pneumonia decided to make small talk and asked what I was in for. I answered her as best I could, “depression.”
“Oh. Yes, that is a thing.”
I didn’t know if I should be offended. I was too depressed to fight my own demons let alone the stigma monster.
She went on to say how brave the lady next to her was because she had cancer. She went on and on. And on some more. Many could argue I was overly sensitive at that time but the what she said made me feel like more of a coward than a fighter. How could I be in hospital when there were people who were braving and losing battles like cancer? She made me feel like what I was going through was nothing compared to something like that. The elderly cancer lady had just had some treatments done and was suffering terribly. She mentioned her husband had also just had his cancer removed. They were like war heroes. And I was wasting good bed space.

Sometimes stigma isn’t loud and obnoxious. Stigma can find it’s way into every day conversation and cause irreparable damage without getting loud. The sting lingers. That’s true stigma. When you afraid of the reaction when you tell people you’re clinically depressed or have bipolar disorder. That negative reaction, whether they intend to or not, stings. Sometimes we’d opt not to have that conversation about mental health to spare us the hurt and embarrassment. I know I do sometimes. When I decided to resign from my last place of work, I didn’t even have an exit interview and no one asked me to stay. That stung. They knew about my mental illness and couldn’t accommodate me because they didn’t want to set a precedent for the other employees. Puh. I think that is stigma. Don’t you?  It was too late to make a fuss, but I had other priorities, like a baby that survived major abdominal surgery. I know I was a valuable employee. But I had family and my own mental health to deal with. You see what I did there? I got defensive and felt the need to give reasons for needing to leave. That’s what stigma makes you feel like- you end up scrambling and making excuses to validate what you feel or think because you’re afraid of negative commentary. Another reason why we just opt not to talk about it. Don’t get me wrong. I understand business, but I also understand people. When people are valued they’ll be loyal and add more than just profits to your business. That’s what I know. And that’s what I’ll bring to the next company I choose to join. But that’s next year’s worries.

When we employed my nanny, my hubby informed her about my illness (which took me my surprise) and how I need to be supported. Since then she’s taken the children for walks when I’m up and about. It’s like she can sense when I can’t deal with loud sounds i.e three loud children. She’ll take over unpacking boxes when she can see I can’t organise or think clearly. She even noticed when  I started feeling better and she complimented me. That felt good, and that’s why I’m here, braving the eyes of people and getting my hair done. At least with all these oogling eyes on me, I’m giving them something pretty to look at.

This post was a little here and there but I wanted to let you all know I’m here. I’m here and I’m staying even when  it gets tough.

I’ve seen the ugliness of depression but it fades in comparison to the glimmer of hope. That hope that whispers, “life is possible.”

Yve

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4 thoughts on “Getting out of my comfortzone and tackling stigma

  1. dyane says:

    Cancer is a fucking nightmare, make no mistake. But it gets respect.

    Bipolar depression, at least where I live, does not. Between 2008 & 2013 I was hospitalized six times and no one visited me except Craig & the girls.

    I wasn’t allowed to have my cell phone or access to the internet for any of the 7 hospitalizations, so I was cut off from e-support. No one called me, sent cards, books, magazines, etc. That “no one” includes my brother and his wife, who live 15 minutes away from my front door. They live 5 minutes away from one hospital and 30 minutes away from the other hospital where I stayed. I never gave them any reason to abandon me they way they did. He used to look up to me before I was diagnosed, and before he met his iceberg, I mean his wife…

    Yes, stigma is real, my friend. If I had cancer I would have gotten some visits, maybe a few fucking balloons and flowers and shit. If I had cancer they would have taken me outside for fresh air. (I was never taken outside not ONE time during ALL of my 7 lengthy hospitalizations and I wasn’t violent or a flight risk!)

    Cancer is terrible – it killed two of my young mom friends (ovarian and breast) taking them away from their little ones & husbands. Cancer is evil, in my opinion. And so is bipolar depression, and so is stigma.

    Like

    • Yve's Corner says:

      Couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s evil. But I didn’t want to overly defend it else what would be the point of writing the post. I didn’t get any visitors either. Okay I had one set but they came to visit with my first suicide attempt so they know me. If I had cancer, I bet a couple of dollars or rands that I would’ve had more visitors and fancy balloons.

      I watched the number of re tweets.

      I hit a nerve.

      You’re right. Cancer gets respect.

      Don’t worry, we’ll fight for some too. There’s more than enough to go around.

      Liked by 1 person

      • dyane says:

        Good for you for hitting a nerve!!!!! Better to write something “controversial” than some boring, same-old post with nothing new to learn from, yes? Today is one of those days where the urge to fight is gone and I just want to hide. But I’ll get spunky again, you’ll see! It helps to know you’re by my side!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Kitt O'Malley says:

    Yve, you know sometimes I think we internalize stigma. At face value, the woman at the hospital validated you by acknowledging that depression is indeed “a thing.” Depression is an illness. In the past, many if not most people would not acknowledge that depression is a thing.

    I had a similar experience with my employer when I was hospitalized and went on disability. Honestly, I believe that they may have been avoiding liability for having overworked me. Those of us with bipolar disorder and easily taken advantage of, for when we are hypomanic, we are EXTREMELY productive. Just a thought.

    I reframed my hospitalization as God making me stop being a workaholic, stop trying to be all things for all people, and start spending more time taking care of myself and my son.

    Finally, I am so glad to hear that you have a nanny to help you with your children and around the house. That is wonderful. I would SO love it if I had domestic help. It takes a village, after all. When I lived in Saudi Arabia as a young girl, we had a house man, Abduh, who helped my mother care for us and our two-bedroom apartment. I loved Abduh dearly. He was a gentle dignified soul.

    Liked by 1 person

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