“Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.”
Being sick is hard, it is hard for anybody at any time regardless of who they are and what their circumstances. Having suffered with depression and later bipolar disorder being “sick” has been a part of my life since I can remember, albeit the kind of sick that many people frown on and question wanting physical proof of the illness.
When your body introduces a physical ailment which over the course of twenty years gets so bad that you end up pretty much bed-ridden and unable to get a diagnosis for months on end you become that person fighting multiple battles that you never would have imagined.
I have gone from a career oriented, self employed woman, who was able to manage my bipolar disorder by choosing my work hours around how well my mental health was to someone who mentally is so sick I can barely get out of bed in the mornings, has started self-harming again, has attempted suicide three times in the past month, and am having anxiety, ocd, and anger issues to name a few.
I’m also pretty much crippled by my mystery bowel condition with more tests booked in for June, and the expectation that I won’t get any results or further news until at least August given the speed the NHS works at.
All of this in itself is hard to deal with and requires so much adjustment, but what is hardest are the affects on your life you don’t see coming.
As somebody who is self-employed I don’t have an employer to support me with a company sick pay scheme, I didn’t earn enough to have insurance (which wouldn’t cover someone with bipolar anyway) so have had to claim sickness benefits. This is something I never imagined I would have to do. Filling in mountains of forms, defending how sick I am and why I’m entitled to barely enough money to buy food each week.
The shame, the stigma, especially when the government in this country is spreading such stigmas that people like me need to get back into work and are wasting public money. Oh how I wish I was well enough to work, how I wish I wasn’t as sick as I am. I hate having to ask for help from charity food banks because we can’t afford food, that I’m being threatened with homelessness because my landlord thinks that anybody on benefits is an “unprofessional dosser”.
What struck me today though, was that I am getting good at budgeting and juggling with very little money. The rent the rogue landlord is getting paid, the essential bills have been negotiated with the companies who have been updated with our situation so they get a payment regularly albeit not as much as they would like, but it keeps them happy.
I cancelled all non-essential contracts, hubby and I filed for bankruptcy to get rid of my manic-debts and now I live a simple life where my finances are planned out.
It’s hard though, when you are sick you want to focus on getting well and instead there are balls flying from all directions threatening your home, your ability to basic rights like food, and you spend so much time fighting fires and telling people how sick you are and asking for a break that you forget to rest and look after yourself.
I’m slowly after several months of this learning how to adjust my life, my Husband is fantastic and works part time to ensure he can support me and give me as much time as I need to rest and look after myself.
I’m now getting great support from my psych nurse who in the past few weeks has been like an angel from heaven visiting me at home and helping me cope with the fact I feel like I’m losing all grip on reality.
I have to take these lessons I’m learning and start seeing how I can apply them to life after the illness, when I get a diagnosis, when this episode has passed and I am coping mentally again. I miss working, it gave my life purpose and I loved helping my clients and making their businesses better by being good at what I do. But I have to remember to always look after myself, because this is where I consistently go wrong when I am working. I forget that I am important and I must come first.
Then bang…here I am again writing posts like this wondering where it all went wrong…