the tao of jaklumen

the path of the sage must become the path of the hero

But You Don’t Look Sick – part 1


[EDIT: I’m bumping up an old post from the VOX archives– maybe someone new will get something good out of it.  The post was originally published December 29, 2007 @ 11:33h.  Some of my perceptions of my condition have changed– actively working on PTSD now– but I think it still applies.]

Dear God,
I want to thank you for being close
to me so far this day.
With your help, I haven’t been
impatient, lost my temper, grumpy,
judgmental, or envious of anyone.
But, I’ll be getting out of bed in a
minute and I think I’ll really need
your help then!

as quoted from

(On to my thoughts…)

The author says she got this from a friend with fibromyalgia, but I heavily relate to it, especially on a downswing day, and more often than not, first thing in the morning.  (I don’t do mornings and family have said waking me is like trying to wake a hibernating bear.)

My folks had an open house Thursday so family and friends could meet my baby sister’s second husband (they got married mid-December) and I met up with an old church friend who is a physical therapist.  Naturally, we talked about my back injury, but he could not wrap his mind around the fact that I was on disability and couldn’t work.

(Fuck Ted Turner… not everyone that lives with bipolar mood disorder is like him, much less have the fortitude to be OFF meds.)

Of course, not even everyone with the diagnosis say things I can relate to, because it’s broken down farther than that.  Don’t look to the celebrities.  I already mentioned Ted Turner– and while Jane Pauley pointed out her diagnosis is in the third category (rapid-cycling/dysthymic) no one’s really adequately educated the public.  When people speak of mood swings– the lowest of lows I get, but not highest of highs.

DSM-IV uses “Type II” to describe what I experience.  So while I experience major depressive episodes (yes, “major” is part of the terminology used in the definition), the mania is a hypomania at best.  Irritable, edgy, aggressive– but not yet giddy, delirious, etc.

My first psychiatrist said that because I was intelligent and had support from church and family, a lot of the symptoms and problems were pretty well masked.  So I get a lot of the “but you don’t look sick” attitude frequently, even if people don’t come right out and say it.  Worse yet, while I have “support”– what is also masked is some of the deep, deep dysfunctionality amongst my blood kin and I.  Some of the mental health professionals I’ve been to have seen and understood that to a degree, however– but that’s because in addition to what I actually said, some were actually sitting in for some of my sessions.  They could see some of it up close and personal.

Of course, “but you don’t look sick” hurts the very worst when it comes from family members, especially from one who provided you womb and board, literally.  That’s all I’ll say on that for now; as the post is open.  Yes, as naked as it leads me to feel, I think the information might be of use to someone.  I hope I won’t have to squirrel it away to obscurity.

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Author: jaklumen

Wherever you see "jaklumen", that's me- the username is still unique as of the current year. Be aware that the facet you see, is only a small part of the me that is me.

4 thoughts on “But You Don’t Look Sick – part 1

  1. ((gentlehugs)) from me, and I understand the "you don't look sick" thing — it cuts deep, sometimes, doesn't it? going away again for just a day or so, just wanted to let you know I'm thinking about you and Cimmy and your kids and hoping you're having a warm and loving time — r.


  2. If I were the Wizard of Oz I'd hand out a good dose of empathy to your family, they need it. I'm glad you've got Cimmy who really seems to *get* you.


  3. @R: Thanks for taking a moment to reply here– Cimmy filled me in, then I read the posts. Take all the time you need.@Val: It's all really in the application.My father has empathy– but he seems to be a bit hamstrung by his own illness, and then my mother– probably about in that order, too.My baby sister has some– but being the baby of the family, she's had more leeway, and hasn't gotten "the full taint" of the experience.Your sentiment is well appreciated, however. :]


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