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30-day-challenge26Day 26: How is your day-to-day life effected by your mental illness(es)?

I think that it can, for some – if not many – of us, sometimes be very difficult to detail just how our mental illness(es) or mental health effects our day-to-day life.  As we ourselves are not always aware of every little influence or impact that it has.

I live alone and therefore there is no-one here to observe any; tendencies, lapses, oddities, behavior patterns, traits, cycles, or idiosyncrasies that I may present (or have) as a result of my mental illnesses or poor mental health.

That having been said, I do have kids who do visit from time to time, and who have made observations.  Or who have asked why I do things or even the more specific question, “Dad, are you alright?” And these questions do sometimes bring to my attention the fact that I am doing some odd or out of character.

Man-Painting-Canvas-2012962Additionally, I have experienced mental illness for as much of my life as I can remember.  So I have been able to build up a fairly good picture over the years.

And one thing that I can say for certain – in response to today’s challenge question/subject – is that how my day-to-day life is effected by my mental illnesses depends directly on how bad my mental health is on any one given day.

This is because my mental health does tend to fluctuate or vary a fair bit.  But then I am fairly sure that this would be common for a lot of folk with poor mental health.

And by fluctuations I am not referring to moods.  And so they are not ‘rapid cycling’ so to speak.   (Although I do also experience these). No these fluctuations are more functioning linked than they are mood linked.

The main symptoms that I experience within my mental health are detailed in the following picture.

SymptomatologyKADAnd the impact that they have, really does depend on such things as a) their intensity,  and b) their duration.

But also; c) the influence of external factors, d) my physical health, e) my emotional health, and f) my spiritual health.

But perhaps the most noticeable way in which my mental illness(es) effect my day-to-day living is in the amount of resolve, mental energy and concentration that I often employ simply to maintain a ‘fairly normal’ existence.

face-crack-maskWhilst writing this post I have been having a conversation with one of my daughters and so I read the question/subject-heading out to her and asked her what her opinion was.

“The way your mental illness(es) affect your day-to-day living is a fairly inward thing for you, isn’t it dad?”  She answered.  “Because you try to mask it.”

And she was right (and is a smart cookie).  I do try to mask it.  And I am keen not to give into, or allow, my mental illness(es) to take over.  I am also very keen that others (especially my kids) should not have to suffer from my mental illness(es).

And that effort, that resolve, that concentration, indeed that mask, may well (in the long run) be doing more harm  than good.  It is a consideration that I have to be open to.

The fact is that I isolate.  I internalize, and I analyze. (Oh how I analyze – anything and everything, over and over again).

Because of the often self-critical and constantly self-sabotaging dialogues – which are constantly going on – both internally and also perceived externally. I find it extremely difficult to truly allow myself to accept that I am liked and even more so,  extremely difficult to allow myself to accept that I am loved.  Ad thus all these things combined make it extremely difficult for me to form (or even to maintain) real-life in-person relationships.

How’s that for open and honest?

quote-be-a-loner-that-gives-you-time-to-wonder-to-search-for-the-truth-have-holy-curiosity-make-your-albert-einstein-226628But in terms of more practical day to day things – the biggest impact has to be in terms of the clarity of my mind and thus my thoughts and resultant behaviors and actions.

DadMentalHealthThere are, as the above picture suggests, as if there are two main sides to me.

The Me – fairly able to cope, high functioning and fairly well focused – when my mental health is fairly good.  And the Me – unfocused, struggling, lost within an alternate reality (or struggling with the threat of one) – when my mental health is bad.

And when this happens, as I said, I find it extremely difficult to focus.  To comprehend things.  To remember things.  I go into rooms and forget why I have gone in there.  I leave doors unlocked.  I forget to turn the oven or cooker off.

I can (and often do) forget to take my medication.  I have even been known to boil a kettle several times before I actually manage the simple task of making a cup of coffee.  And even when I have managed it I have sometimes been known to do something like putting my cell phone in the refrigerator and to carry the milk instead (along with the coffee) back to my study.

Additionally I can lose great chunks of time whilst I zone out and/or disassociate.  And as the alternate reality that my mind is presenting me with becomes more dominant.  And with this (and the self-critical and self-sabotaging dialogues) my mood and welfare can drop as I become more at risk of harm either by accident or by self-infliction.

How is my day-to-day life effected by my mental illness(es)?”  Well, to be honest, it varies, from not that much on some days – through badly on other days – and right on into hellish alternate realities on other days.

But I am extremely appreciative of the good days and humbled and extremely grateful for the support that I get to help me through the bad and/or hellish days.

And I have to be honest and I think it is worth mentioning, I also truly believe that sometimes it is not so much a case of ‘how our day-to-day lives are effected by out mental illness’, but more ‘how our mental illness is effected by our day-to-day lives’.