You may not like to talk about it, you don't even like thinking about it anymore, but you know something is wrong with your life.  Your relationships are suffering, you're not happy, it's hard to focus on work when you do go in, and sometimes you feel like feel like you might be losing your mind. 

The worst time for me were the long periods when I knew something was terribly wrong with my life but it didn't know what it was.  If it didn't have a diagnosis, it couldn't be treated.  So I went without help in a mysterious limbo where everyday brought new things that I could not explain, identify or account for to myself. 

Perhaps your wife, husband, partner, friend, parent or someone else close to you has made remarks or asked you questions about the changes they see in you and your behavior.  This may have irritated you and caused you more anxiety since you didn't have any answers for them.

One day you wake up and think it was going to be like one of the good old days and everything was going to be normal for a change, and then like a jack-in-the-box popping out, you'd have what you had come to think of as your "episodes" and everything was off kilter or off into a maze of craziness once again.  

Do you look in the mirror and ask, "What's wrong with me?"

So what do you do to get help?  Are you ready to get help?  You may not be ready yet. 

You continue to see your therapist, but you don't really talk about what's bothering you.

You go to church.

You pray.

You throw yourself into volunteer or service work.

You change these around in your lifestyle, routines and behaviors like buying a new day planner in an effort to stop being chronically late.   Or you cut up your credit cards,  and stop carrying around more than ten dollars at a time.  You go back to trying to just smoke marijuana.  You only drink every other day.  You sign up for a group that will help you get out of yourself.  You take up a new hobby. You take up a new sport or exercise regimen.  But nothing changes the thing, the big thing that is terribly wrong with your life and won't just go away on its own.

Why doesn't it get better?  Maybe you did talk about it in therapy, at least parts of it.  You wrote about it in your journal.  You confided in a friend or family member.  You went to confession and started going to church.  You got up earlier and picked up breakfast on the way to work.  You promised the boss you would have that presentation done by Wednesday and you really made an effort, even giving up your night out and your lunch hours, but you missed the deadline again. 

You forgot to pick up the kids.  You suddenly quit your job or were terminated.  You had your first panic attack.  You bought a new car you know you can't afford.  You stole money from your own mother.  You haven't been out of bed except to go to the bathroom in three weeks.  You thought you saw your dead grandfather in your bedroom.  You hit your wife.   You got to the grocery store and couldn't remember a single thing you had come to buy.  You received over one hundred dollars in overdraft notices from the bank. Your mind is constantly racing and you can't focus.   You told your boss to f**k off.  You promised your husband you would come straight home from work,  but you didn't make it home until three in the morning.  The dishes in the sink haven't been washed in a week.   You lost your house keys again.   You forgot your anniversary.  You made a huge spectacle of yourself in public.  You made a pass at your boss's wife.  You fell down and badly injured yourself.  You haven't slept in three days.  You promised your son you would help him with his homework,  but then you got distracted by something else.  You took an overdose of sleeping pills.  You slit your wrists.  You had a heart attack, a stroke or some other serious medical crisis.

These are the type of things that go on happening when It doesn't have a name. It is the mystery ailment that sets you apart from others and wreaks havoc in your life without leaving its calling card.

True, we all know,  denial is not just a river in Egypt.  Denial can be a major or the largest factor in going without help for long periods.  Shame, feelings of self-hatred, low-self esteem, feelings of failure, dishonest thinking hiding out and covering up as a way of life can be factors.  Not being willing to even look into what it might be for fear you'll get an answer that will require a major lifestyle change is another.

What typically forces a person in this predicament to go looking for the answer?  Sometimes a separation or divorce will jar someone into taking action.  A death of a family member or friend can motivate a person to find out what exactly is wrong with their life.  A child expressing fear, disappointment or disrespect can get through the fog and trigger a reaction in a parent.  A major medical crisis or a suicide attempt is sometimes enough to send someone looking for real help.

Where Do You Go First?  What Do You Do?'

You begin with self-honesty.  You face the man the man or woman in the mirror and get as honest as you still know how to be.   It may be that you really don't know and you aren't in denial. Then if you go to a doctor, a psychiatrist or therapist, look up your symptoms on the Internet, call a crisis phone line, or just talk to somebody and be open about what has been going on with you. 

My Undiagnosed Years:  Sometimes we're the last to know.

I had know idea that my inability to get out of bed and take an interest in life was clinical depression.  I was waiting for it to go away on its own.  As if  I really was just in one long bad mood or having an attack of self-pity,  as the people around me seemed to suggest with their "snap out of it" themed remarks.

And I love the title of the self-help book You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Crazy or Stupid? because that was sure how I felt when I learned I had adult attention deficit disorder (A.D.D.).   I also learned I had not lived up to my potential since childhood because of A.D.D.

I really thought I had to be losing my mind when I had bipolar disorder and didn't know it.  (I wasn't though, thank God.  It's not a psychosis.)   I called that thing that was out off center in my life in a big way "severe, chronic and terminal PMS" to my friends and husband, and I sought help from gynecologists. 

When my drinking progressed to daily binges,  I got creative.  I knew I couldn't be an alcoholic.  My parents were alcoholics,  and I knew what they were like:  a couple of out of it drunks who staggered around and slurred when they spoke.   No, I was special.  I had a rare mental illness which might look for all the world  like alcoholism,  but was really a neurological illness of some kind that caused a person to have to drink every day.   They emotionally and mentally had to drink because  they were entirely too sensitive for the crassness of this world.  I was an artiste--a writer--and I was unique. Yeah, and then I got better and told people how "terminal uniquitis" almost killed me.  Because if no one has a diagnosis for you, that means help isn't forthcoming.  

Drugs?  I rationalized to any "straight" person that would listen that I "mostly" just smoked marijuana and everybody knew that should be legal because it was harmless.

The problem with my thinking, my denial,  was that I didn't include psychedelics, which everyone knew were a sacred consciousness-raising drug.  Nor did I feel like including all the bottles of codeine cough syrup I drank, the many, many bottles of barbiturates, amphetamines and  pain killers;  cocaine, hash, and many more,  including the odd pills I found on the ground and then later looked up in the Physician's Desk Reference to see if they were worth taking or not.

So that covers my mysterious thing that took control of my life at various ages and caused it to become something I didn't recognize as my own.

 How About You?  Are You Ready To Call It By Name?

How about you?  Are you ready to cut through the denial and admit what earthquake is causing the aftershocks that have altered your life for the worse?

Things You Can Do:

 Write out all the symptoms your experiencing and see how many are branches of a common tree.  Go talk to your minister, priest or rabbi; employee assistance program person, counselor, doctor, or spouse/significant other.  Listen to their feedback and let it in before you discount it.  Are a number of people close to you all telling you the same things?   You could try an open meeting of a self-help group where you don't have to be a member to attend.  You also don't have to participate, but you will be able to listen and see if you belong there.

To get you started I'm going to include links to some simple quizzes to check yourself for signs and symptoms of these conditions.   The rest is up to you.  How long do you want to stay miserable?  Isn't it time to make a break a break for wellness? 

Remember, you only need to make the change in your life for one day.  You can do anything for one day.  You can build a house all by yourself.  You just have to do it brick by brick.

I hope this is your first brick.

1.  Are You Bipolar?

2.  Are you an addict?

3. Are you an alcoholic?

4.  Do I have adult attention deficit disorder (A.D.D.)?

5.  Do you have depression?

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