There is a train of thought that I have been wrestling with since I started being open and doing what I do through my website- “how do you get through to someone who doesn’t realize there is a problem?” I’m alright with rock bottom and I know that some people have to fall that far before they can recover. The problem is that “rock bottom” usually entails a lot of awfulness that would be better avoided. Is it homelessness? Divorce? Addiction? Suicide? Rock bottom is an unpleasant place and I know there are times I treat it with a flippant attitude because I managed to get through mine somewhat unscathed. I find that to be unsatisfactory.
Another problem is that I’m sitting here across yon internet. I typically don’t have the benefit of being able to talk to the person and get a glimpse of their life story. I think that getting through the walls is best accomplished through an entirely personal approach that speaks directly to the individual. That way you have an opportunity to explore the history and thought processes of that person and introduce the potential for a better, attainable reality. I believe that it hinges on making the person realize that the way they experience their life is abnormal. After all, if you’ve lived a certain way for 10 or 50 years- how are you supposed to know there’s anything different waiting for you?
The methodology I employ splashes over into what is important to the medical profession. Medical professionals are looking for abnormalities that inflict significant disruption to the patient’s quality of life and their ability to care for themselves. Thus, I feel it’s a good idea to stay along those lines so when the person goes in to talk to the professional they are introducing these significant points.
As usual, let me use myself for as an example.
Employment – I’ve had no fewer than 25 jobs. Some I lost on my own volition. Others I lost for legitimate reasons. I lost at least a dozen because my brain dropped into a severe depression and I just couldn’t function, I couldn’t communicate what was going on in my head, and I would just throw the job aside and stop going. There are others where my brain would be so scattered and chaotic, I’d be furious with everyone, impatient with everything, cuss out a manager or customers. You know, typical Bipolar shenanigans.
How would I use this information if I was confronting me?
“Do you realize it’s not normal to go through dozens of jobs in the span of 15 years? Your brain should not cause you so many problems that you are unable to maintain anything long-term. It’s a possible indicator of something wrong that could be treated. You may be able to end that cycle of destruction and have some stability and consistency.”
And this point is one a medical professional would be interested in because we all need income to exist. This is the kind of thing that should be considered a symptom.
Inability to Feel – The inability to feel is very common with depression. The void consumes everything. I’ve been fighting with depression since I was about 13. In that time, I’ve done the following to cope with it- self-harm in the form of burning myself, a lot of drugs and alcohol, sleeping for 20 hours a day and avoiding everything, and one active and six suicide attempts to finally end it. The days that should have been the happiest days of my life I felt little to nothing. Often, it was only a brief wisp of emotion that was soon sucked under and devoured by depression. To say it fucking sucks is an understatement.
How would I use this information if I was confronting me?
“It’s not normal to not feel. It indicates a potential problem that you need to talk to a doctor about. It’s normal for you because that’s how it’s been in your mind- but that’s not how it has to be if you confront it and fight it. Depression is treatable but you have to get up and pursue it. The suicide attempts, hurting yourself to see if you can feel; it’s normal for us but isn’t the kind of existence you should accept for yourself.”
Again, this is a person’s mental processes drastically interfering with their ability to live and conduct their life. Social interaction and self-care are both essential parts of human existence that can be severely derailed by depression.
And that hits on the biggest problem I run into. How do you convince a person who’s been living a mentally ill life for the last 40 years that there is anything better waiting for them? How do you show them they aren’t just a fuck up, deserve peace of mind, and happiness?
I feel like it’s not going to be in generalized articles or trying to speak through a loved one from a thousand miles away. I think a knowledgeable third party needs to really analyze their history and present it back to them with an eye for the things that would fall into the scope of potential symptoms so they could be contrasted with “typical”.
It’s definitely difficult for a loved one or a friend to assume this mantle but it is often necessary. A spouse or a friend often has to get that person to realize they need to see a doctor at all. The good news is that they are often familiar with that person’s history. I would avoid suggesting that it is anything specific; but stick to the severe issues and encourage them to talk to a doctor about them. Chances are pretty good it will take awhile to sink in so don’t be surprised if it doesn’t happen overnight. Remember- you’re trying to get through years and years of living unwell.
Arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible. The person will often latch on to a weak point and ride it for all it’s worth to avoid looking inward.
Please share any thoughts or comments with me you may have on this subject. I’m interested to know what got through to you or if you have any input on the problem.
Subscribe to have blog posts and news delivered straight to your Inbox!