Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9:13

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Shame

In a comment to my last post (posted about an hour ago so look back), Emilija noted that disability made her feel shame. Thank you, that is exactly the right word. I feel like I am a kid skipping school and knowing perfectly well I'm just playing hooky. And in my family we didn't stay home unless we were dying. It just wasn't done. I had 2 knee surgeries in high school. The first time I went to school the next day. The second was more major and the doctor wrote for me to stay home for a week until he looked at it. The surgery was done on a semi-emergent basis, so it was done on a holiday. I stayed home the next day and went back the day after. The day my grandma died I went to the nursing home to say good-bye and then went to school. I just never missed. In my entire career I have barely missed work except for vacation and bipolar. The only sick days I've taken are when I was throwing up and I've worked and vomited. It really scares me as I see the number of bipolar days increase over time, although that has a lot to do with my current therapist being pretty good about making me consider when I need time off. It was also easier to move a day to a Saturday because of bipolar at my last job. I think I've also hit a period of being really confused. In the spring I decided the next time I was really sick I'd take time off and do whatever needed done to get better. It wasn't going to be a huge choice since there weren't many options. And then I reacted well to all the Depakote and bought time, and started believing time off was not coming so fast. Even when I started this time off we didn't think it would be that major. At least I don't think we did. And now I just keep hearing "it won't be 4 months, don't worry", but it's working on a month and nothing has changed into significantly better except that I can eventually sleep after enough days.

And for whatever reason, I do feel shame in that. I feel like I'm missing something. I feel like a failure at adulthood. I take my meds, every day. I avoid anything that might be a trigger. I see my therapist. Right now I don't feel like therapy is the biggest solution to my problems because the one thing he can't do is make me sleep. I feel like when they call to check on me from work and I sound ok that they're surely thinking I am goofing off. I feel very guilty because I'm taking a 4 day vacation. It was planned months ago, it's cleared by my doctor who I can contact, I can get back here quickly if needed, and if I don't feel well I will do nothing but sleep; I'll be with family.

In general, I think I'm just not very proud of being who I am. I am told every week in therapy that the best I can do is the best I can do, but it feels like not enough.

Yet I guess I must remember that just taking the meds I'm on right now alone is something to be proud of. Having the self-discipline to not make it worse is something good. I have not hurt myself and I have wanted to. I made myself keep the meds down when they thought they could come back up tonight.

I'm fighting. That's good. I just want to be sure that I'm winning.

3 comments:

BamaGal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BamaGal said...

I understand the guilt and shame you sometimes feel. Not only do you get it from those outside the mental health field. You can also be bombarded with it from inside the field. Many people diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder are nearly as bad as lay people in not understanding the overwhelming feelings that hit some of us. They function fully. Saying we should be too, but not everyone is the same. I have good days and bad days. I feel when things are not well with me and I continue to push myself in my day to day life---I only become more ill.
Let me ask you one simple question.Do you think anyone diagnosed with say diabetes or cancer or heart disease would feel guilt for taking time to heal when their illness was making them sick?? So why should we.....

Jon said...

This exact same thing has me conflicted. I'm exactly like you, I've always been a hard worker. I define myself with respect to work. I can work from home if the need arises, but it's discouraged. I recently had a conversation with HR about what might happen if an employee were to disclose a condition of bipolar disorder. The only reason for disclosure would be to ask for reasonable accomodations on the handful of days a year when things get bad. Based on the conversation I decided not to make such a disclosure. I'd certainly like to come out, though.