Saturday, January 19, 2013
Being Mentally Disabled, I Constantly Fear Answering the Question, "What Do You Do for Work?"
I have been burned so many times from opening-up to people about my mental health. I'm a guy who feels things deeply, shares my emotions freely and, "wears my heart on my sleeve." I'm very honest and open about my disease with people but have often been hurt by incessant insensitive, lack of respect and simple solutions offered. I struggle to maintain the balance between talking about my diseases to raise awareness and protecting myself from cruel people.
So, I ask you, "How much do you talk about your psychiatric disease(s)?" If you don't talk about it, do you feel ignored and resentful that everyone else gets to discuss their life and struggles besides you? I feel like I need to protect myself but at the same time I feel like people need to hear about the realities of living with a disabling, psychiatric disease. In not talking, I sometimes feel like I'm enabling their delusional ignorance.
One of the reasons I've stopped going out with people is because I dread meeting new people who will ask, "So, what do you do?" Meaning, of course, "what kind of job do you have?" After being disabled from these diseases for over 10 years, I've still not come up with a satisfactory answer. I've tried so many responses but none seem to feel right. I often am honest, and just say I'm disabled but then that often causes tension because people don't know what to say, and sometimes they just give you that look where you know they are judging you and thinking, "They seem 'normal' to me--they don't seem disabled. I bet they're just being lazy, etc." I often see a perceptable change in the way they look at me after saying I'm disabled. Besides, explaining "schizoaffective disease" in a quick summary is nearly impossible. Other times I just say that I am self-employed and work at home as a freelance writer (blogs) but I struggle with this one, too, because it's not exactly true. I don't work in the sense of being paid.
I feel like I've lost so much due to these psychiatric diseases. Everyone else has moved on with life, with careers, kids, accomplishments and vacations to talk about but nothing ever changes for me, so no one really asks what I AM doing. We all know what I'm doing, the same thing as always--disabled. I don't have anything to add to discussions when friends or family are sharing the latest news. What am I going to say? That the "news" from my end is that I'm feeling suicidal and depressed again? Yeah, talk about a conversation stopper--the reaction from others is often as though I dropped a turd in the punch bowl. Therefore, I often feel like I can't be honest and have to just "fake it" but I'm not that kind of person, so it feels awkward and "not me." Thus, I often just stay home out of frustration and depression. Ugh.