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Wednesday, March 09, 2005

When Your Doctor Says All You've Got Are the Baby Blues

Through TulipGirl, I found a moving, sometimes nerve-wrecking, sometimes sad, but also, quietly inspiring series of posts from amy loves books this morning.

Last night I was thinking about Iris Chang's response to mental illness by hiding it from close family and friends. Ultimately it robbed her of her own life.

Her parents think this is due to the stigma that Asian-Americans normally attach to mental illness. Perhaps this stigma might wider than the Asian community. Christians, for instance, might view it as a spiritual problem. So Christians who are mentally ill might have the fear that others might think there is something wrong with your spiritual walk.

Whether Christian, or Asian, perhaps, there is a persistent worry that others might find out you are not "all-that-well-up-there":
One thing that writing this story has helped me realize is the powerful need that I felt to keep my mental illness a secret. When I started becoming paranoid and delusional, the feelings of panic and fear were accompanied by an equally overpowering conviction that I should not tell anyone. No matter what. I needed to appear normal.

In writing these entries, I've struggled with a desire to try to justify myself, or make excuses, or not really own up to how dark and delusional I was. But that is not fair. Not fair and not true.
Here are the rest of Amy's story:
A Baby Story -- Part One of A Tale I Don't Tell

Part Two -- Birth

Part Three -- All We Need to Know of Hell

The End: The Monster

This morning after I read the stories, I sat and read them out loud to my wife. Although we did not go through her kind of depression and psychosis, we struggle with our own kind, so we resonate with her and share her pain and sorrow. We especially know how true it is when she says
...I considered myself emotionally strong. Now, I visualize that, somewhere inside of me, there is a bite from a poisoned apple. I don't know how it got there, and I don't think it will ever really go away. I have the potential to get very sick. I can never be sure it won't happen again.
Know that this problem does not just hit those who have just undergone a major emotional and physical change like a childbirth. Sometimes it hit others as well.