Dear World, Mental Illness is Real

It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who pay lip service to the reality of mental illness, but then turn a blind eye when faced with it. Sadly, it’s like that with most everything people can’t see.

I can’t look the other way. I have to live with it.

I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression all my life stemming from a number of factors. After an incompetent doctor overdosed me with Prednisone for a solid month both problems became more acute, but especially the anxiety. Medication is out of the question owing to my sensitivity.

For someone suffering as such, 2020 has been anxiety inducement on steroids, both nationally and personally. Somehow, I managed, until September 25th produced three of the scariest days of my life.

My 2020:

• Yes, Covid-19. I suffer from lung damage and lung disease. Thus, if I get it there are no odds. I die. That was my pulmonologist’s warning. My last attack of Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis, my lung disease, was last January.
• Of course, four years of endless political outrages (denied rights, protesters abused, children in cages, etc.) make it worse. I will vote. 
• I screen my calls, but the barrage of pollsters and campaigns trying to contact me has been relentless.
• Trying to avoid political ads online has been impossible, as have been some of the vicious people on social media.
• My lockdown, begun March 18th, has passed six months. Six months of isolation, of me and my thoughts secluded.
• I lost both of my cats before Covid hit.
• I’m on a fixed income and my greedy landlord, probably eyeing those stimulus checks, raised the rent an astonishing amount. Amazing what you can get away with when people are stuck.
• I had a cancer scare over the summer.

*Don’t think for one minute that I don’t recognize that for over 200,000 Americans and their families, the year has been worse.

Still, my mental health is real for me. It’s been a struggle, but I’ve gotten by with a mix of walking, yoga, and, most important, writing.

And then September 25th happened. In the middle of the night, while I slept, an Apple security update turned my life upside down. (I’m writing this on my ancient laptop that I no longer allow to update.)

4:40AM.

Predatory, it gutted a saved Scrivener project that happened to be open and sent the computer into a tizzy resembling a computer obsessed with solving Pi. In other words, it slowed all other operations to a crawl.

Apple, not being the slightly kind corporation of old, doesn’t care. For them, it’s a whoops, too bad.

For the real, live human being on the other end who paid considerable money for their product, the experience was different.

I began to shake violently. The tears came, of course. There was the full impact of what’d happened. The ramifications of my isolation and my physical health in the midst of a pandemic followed. I desperately needed someone, anyone there with me. There was no one. There’s been no one.

The one person who’d be the least help, who’d do more harm than good, was there.

Photo: CA Hawthorne

Photo: CA Hawthorne

Me.

Mental illness. The impact of what’d happened was born on the wave of all that’d happened over the year that I’d kept at bay. The lost work, crippled computer, financial implications, and health risks of having to venture forth to solve the problem all resurrected my accumulating fears.

To my continual frustration, my own mind was used against me.

There was no sleep. I couldn’t keep food down. The continual trembling was exhausting. In my mind the huge disaster grew and grew and grew. The frustration of knowing what’s happening makes it worse.

The same part of my mind that was frustrated and understood what was happening also knew I was in serious danger.

To save myself, I entered survival mode. I fled social media and the news. I avoided reminders and triggers. I lost myself in movies, reading, and yoga.

I get it. Some are thinking, what’s the big deal? Suck it up. That’s a world view that doesn’t include what can’t be seen, or hasn’t been experienced. It’s how they view Covid-19. It’s how they treat my lung disease (last January someone else’s cold becomes my serious HP attack).

The news has, fortunately, improved. Someone here reached out to me. There are a couple of fixes for the computer problem. I’ve lost considerable work, but the computer and 99% of what’s on it should be able to be saved. The one project is lost, despite my backup, because the files within it were destroyed and too much time passed. If I hadn’t panicked and if I’d been computer savvy, it might have been different, but the required steps needed to have happened immediately.

That person is going to remedy the problem for me, but can’t do so for about ten days because of an illness and work obligations (they live outside of town). That’s okay.

Calming, finally, I’ll start replacing some of what was lost on this laptop and transfer later. Fortunately, my handwritten notes and maps have survived.

I truly believe, with all my heart, that 2020 will be remembered for tragedy, but also for people reassessing. I know that’s been a process for me all year. It continues now. I’ve had enough of Facebook. I tried to close my account, but the process is a labyrinth. If you negotiate it, FB then simply blocks the final step. I settled for leaving a post explaining I’m done.

It’s time to reassess and it’s time to protect myself, and ourselves. Once my computer situation is resolved I’ll take better steps to protect it from Apple Corporation’s indifferent policies that, like so many other corporations, market the humanity they don’t possess.

My anxiety is born of abuse, dysphoria, neglect, and childhood rape all intensified by an unnecessary drug overdose. Most of the time, if you look at me you can’t see any of that. That’s my truth, my burden, and it’s a battle I wage every day. It’s a battle where I was, at the least, maintaining a draw.

Until September 25th. Now, again, I’m rebuilding.

About Christina Anne Hawthorne

Alive and well in the Rocky Mountains. I'm a fantasy writer who also dabbles in poetry, short stories, and map making. My Ontyre tales are an alternative fantasy experience, the stories rich in mystery, adventure, and romance. Alternative fantasy? Not quite steampunk. Not quite gothic. In truth, the real magic is in those who discover what's within.
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2 Responses to Dear World, Mental Illness is Real

  1. Rick Ellrod says:

    Sorry to hear about all this, Christina. If you feel that isolated again, please reach out.

    • Thank you so much, Rick. It’s been a year such that I could never have imagined, each day another weight added. I’m proud that I knew what was about to happen. It was ugly, but I did the best I could. The computer situation isn’t yet resolved, but I have begun doing a little writing again by hand. I MUST write, no matter the method. Again, thank you.

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