On being a burden

Living with a mental illness is extremely difficult. No matter how hard I try, it will never just go away. I will have relapses and they will be frustrating and potentially dangerous. That’s the nature of a cyclical illness. There are days I can barely move, I can barely think, I can barely feel, and other days that all that’s keeping me together is knowing that my family- my mother- will be saddled with my college and car debt, and will not receive my life insurance policy to help make ends meet. I can’t do that to them. Even in my darkest moments, I do everything I can to protect them. This is something my therapist and I go around and around and around about; I have to be perfect to protect my family, especially my mom. I always have taken on that role of protecting everybody and I don’t know how to stop.

From my LiveJournal, December 17th, 2010:

One of the main themes of my hang-ups is that I’m afraid to be a burden. I was thinking about this earlier tonight and I think part of that fear is the fear that if I’m too much of a burden, my loved ones will leave me because I drove them all crazy. I see it happen all the time with my clients; most of them don’t have family left because they’ve alienated all of them due to being so very sick. My dad alienated his entire family, except for his mom, and then she passed away two years ago. I have no idea where he is now. I’ve driven off plenty of friends in the past by being too needy, so now I’m afraid to call friends for support even when I really need it and it’s been offered, because I don’t want to go through the pain again. Ultimately, this is a very realistic fear, though I am probably over-exaggerating how much of a burden I actually am to my family and friends.

It’s sad that the fear of leaving my loved ones with debt is what keeps me alive at times, but if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes. At other times, it’s been my being behind on paperwork that kept me going, because I didn’t want things to go undocumented, and I’ve deliberately lagged on paperwork so I would have an excuse to keep going. As I tell my clients, sometimes a coping mechanism is a coping mechanism, and if it’s keeping you safe and alive, it’s sometimes the best we can do, until we can work out a better, more healthy one.

What has been the last line of defense for you? What things have kept you going when you wanted nothing more than to give up and give in?

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One response to “On being a burden

  1. Pingback: On being a burden, redux. | prozacinmycornflakes

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