Mental illness—there I put it out there on the very first sentence of this post. I can’t say it out loud yet, my voice turns to a croak and my ears feel hot if I try. I’m embarrassed to admit that I, Amanda Jo Pelletier, have a mental illness. There are those in my family that call me weak for admitting it, and even weaker for seeking treatment. Others just can’t see it or simply choose not to.
Worst of all I’ve lied to make everyone think I’m fine. I’ve held good jobs and even been elected as a town official. I’ve made many people think that issues between my husband and myself were a lot worse than they were. I exaggerated and blew things out of proportion to gain the assistance of those who might feel badly for me. We did fight, yes—but never as badly as I reported.
Why would I do these things? How could I think I’m in the right? I know right now it was wrong, I’m ashamed and angry with myself. My guilt haunts me day and night. I engaged in risky relationships and had another man living with me and my two older children. He was kind, but I lead him on and it was wrong—more guilt. I liked him, but that wasn’t love. My husband putting up with my many issues: adultery, mental illness, fondness of live poultry, and lack of ability to work—that’s love.
It’s a time to draw lines in the sand while I figure out what’s going on in my head. Here is my list for doing just that:
- Keep only positive relationships
- Pause strained or negative relationships
- Surround myself with people who encourage treatment
- Take on no new work to reduce stress
- Be open and transparent with my husband—even if it hurts him to hear
- Expect the traditional healthcare system to suck, be slow and unhelpful
- Seek healthy support through private counseling
- Never lose hope
- Network with others to help understand myself
- Accept my mental illness
- Stay on track and seek help when I feel I’m not
- Shed the guilt over time
Over time I ought to bloom out of this mess and become a better parent, wife and person. I want a career, to raise effective members of society and become myself an active member of my community. None of this will be easy. There has never been a better time than now to do this for myself, and my family—they all deserve better. This will be my visit to Oz to find the man behind the curtain.