I was recently talking with my mother in law on the phone and the topic was career choices. I washed out of my last career in the fall and I am shopping around for a new direction. My hubby's family has a lot of military and peace officers in it so the topic turned to joining the military or police. I said I didn't think that was going to happen with my history of mental illness and current antidepressant use.
MIL "Well, what are you taking?"
MIL "Your taking what!?"
ME "Prozac, I tried a couple of other ones first but Prozac has actually helped quite a bit so I've stuck with it"
MIL "Your not going to go postal are you?" Laughs
Me "Actually, I feel a lot less postal being on it, and since it's working I don't want to rock the boat right now"
My in-laws are actually great and have been very supportive since my break down. It's nice they think highly enough of me that they are encouraging me to become an officer in the military or something similar. I actually used to be very interested in joining the police or border guards. But now I feel like my going for treatment would be a black mark on my application. It wont matter how smart, capable, brave or determined I am, everyone will be afraid I may go "postal" whenever things get a little stressful.
I think this is why there is still a lot of stigma around mental illness. Most people are comfortable talking about stress or depression, but nobody wants to admit to needing help. My own family thinks antidepressants are for wimps and losers, and shrinks are a waste of money. So I don't talk to them about my problems. I also don't talk about it at work, or with many of my friends. I only talk to my in-laws, hubby, therapist and support group. Those people are safe, they aren't going to judge me.
Some days I feel like going for treatment was a mistake, if I had been strong enough to struggle through on my own I wouldn't be so limited now. If I didn't have mental illnesses in my health records I could have more careers to choose from. I would be able to use the education I am still paying for. Instead I need a low stress job, which means low pay, and high debt. No matter what I do it will cause stress one way or another.
I know getting help was the best thing. On my last day at my other job I drove to work thinking how easy it would be to park by the river, lock my car, walk to the middle of the bridge and just jump. When I parked in front of the building and gathered my things and started across the lot I though to myself, I would rather put a gun in my mouth than go inside. I went in though, I broke down, and I ended up at the hospital where my doctor put my off on stress leave indefinitely. It was a bad day, but it could have been worse. I could have not gone for help. I could have refused the meds, and I could have ended up ending my life.
So I will take the jokes about going "postal". I will continue to go to my support group. And I will continue to work on getting better, being less disfunctional and more functional. Because I am alive, I am feeling much better, and I am very, very glad I got help. It doesn't limit me, it set me free.