Despite the purpose of this blog, I still find it difficult to talk about what I go through with my mental illness – to let readers in. This week my therapist asked me how I could write about my illness on here, but struggle to talk in a public forum (think social media) about the same topics.
The truth is, I struggle to talk about my illness anywhere. Not just on social media. As you have likely noticed, posts tend to reflect the topic (like recipes, or a book review) with very little if any of my day to day life. I’m working on that.
While I desire to advocate for those with mental illnesses, I also am wary of exposing too much of myself. Paranoia plays a daily role in my struggle with mental illness.
With that being said, I sketched a comic about my struggle with agoraphobia recently. My goal is to start sketching comics dealing with mental illnesses regularly, to help promote awareness. Not the typical on-going comic that tells a story when put together, but stand-alone comics that tell a story in and of themselves.
Without further ado, my first mental illness comic:
The story behind this comic is homework I have been working on with my therapist. Due to me being unable to leave the house without my husband (or occasionally my best friend), she assigned me the homework of walking out to the mailbox and fetching the mail. We started slow (1-2x per week) and after months, I can now get the mail every day – but it’s still a difficult task just to open the door and walk outside. It’s not very far – the mailbox is just at the end of our driveway – but I struggle nonetheless.
For the first few months, there was a “build-up” where I would pace just inside the door, freaking out completely, unable to open the door and go outside. When I finally would muster up the courage to open the door, I would recite our door number (we live in a quadplex) over and over until I reached the mailbox, then quickly come back inside. Once inside again I would have to sit down, because I would be dizzy and unable to breathe properly.
When my therapist realized there was a “build-up”, she instructed me to choose a time, and just do it. No pacing, no over-thinking. Just go. Sounds simple, right? It took me awhile to get to the point where I could even manage that. I would put my shoes on, walk up to the door, then turn around and take my shoes right back off and not go at all.
Finally my therapist told my husband that he was not allowed to get the mail – I had to get it, or it had to sit in the box. There was still a build up. I was still panicked and scared. But I did it. Now I do it nearly every day (occasionally I miss a day) without the build up, and without much panic. My therapist loves to use it as an example of something that started out hard, that I can now do regularly.
Is there something seemingly simple to everyone else that you find difficult to accomplish?