Michael Crook
@IAmMichaelCrook

About Michael Crook

I am Michael Crook. On this site, I will in great length discuss my mental illness--including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia--and my history of suicide attempts, with the intention not of attention or pity, but of helping others who may be going through the same thing, or who may know someone else who is.

With the exception of Twitter [@IAmMichaelCrook], I do not have a presence on any of the far too numerous social networking sites. I do not maintain a weblog, nor do I podcast, webcast, nor any other sort of cast. I tend to avoid socialization offline.

My favorite type of music is techno and dance music and all the related genres. I enjoy hard or underground techno music from groups that have disappeared, such as RTZ Belgium, Psychoslaphead, Psykosonik, Tecknophonia Ltd., Incendiary and Kranz, but at the same time I also enjoy eurodance. In that genre my favorite groups include Twenty 4 Seven, 2 Brothers on the 4th Floor, Captain Hollywood Project and La Bouche, just to name a few.

I am not particularly religious, though I do identify as Christian, having been raised somewhat in my early childhood in the Seventh-day Adventist faith and having attended a private SDA academy as a child. It is the only religion I have ever known. Given that, I do not not attend church services as an adult as I am fairly confident that God does not take attendance.

A true homebody, I prefer to stay at home as much as possible, perfectly content to sit back and use my laptop while watching television and enjoying burritos and Pepsi®. I also quite enjoy my iPhone® and I absolutely get as much use out of it as one possibly can.

DUI: No Tolerance

One thing you should know about me is this: I especially hate drunken drivers. I have no tolerance for them, their excuses and their attempts to appear as though they are good people who made a "mistake." More often than not, when the driver is hauled into court, he or she ends up having more rights and considerations than the victim or the victim's survivors. Their friends will typically scream at the top of their lungs about how the he or she is a good person and that it was "an accident." Good people do not drive while drunk. And drunken driving is never an "accident," because to do requires a series of intentional and malicious acts. It is as simple as that, in my opinion.

When a drunken driver claims a crash was an "accident," he or she is being disingenuous at best. The person in question did not drink to the point of intoxication and then get into the car--while drunk--by accident, and he or she did not put key to ignition by accident. He or she did not start the car and put it into gear by accident, and did not take to the roads by accident. Therefore, driving while drunk is never a "mistake" or an "accident."

That is especially so since everyone knows drunk driving is wrong. Thus, there is no excuse for driving drunk, no matter many crocodile tears the drunkard pretends to shed. Any remorse a drunken driver feels is for himself or herself, never for the victim or victims they slaughtered to satisfy their drunken bloodlust, in my opinion. A person who is evil enough to drive while drunk is, I feel, incapable of feeling true remorse or guilt, because if that person were truly sorry, he or she would not have done it to begin with.

Again, drunken driving is clearly a malicious, planned and intentional act, since the person in questions knows they are drunk or are getting to that point, so drunken driving can never be excused. Never. Anyone with half a brain knows that there are options for people who inbibe when they know they will be driving. Indeed, choosing a designated driver is always smart, as is hiring a taxi or calling one's friends.

If a person is so irresponsible as to be under the influence of alcohol to the point of intoxication, and then malicious enough to want to drive while intoxicated, he or she can make it right by choosing one of these options. Because there are options, a drunken driver--especially one who injures or kills--can never be redeemed or forgiven.

Drunken drivers who injure or kill another need to be punished harshly. Why? Clearly, because they knowingly drove while drunk (intent) and then aimed a loaded weapon (the car) at the victim, which qualifies as murder, in my opinion. It is my opinion that anyone who ever has or ever will drive drunk is a threat to society and should be treated as such.

Sadly, very few states take serious action against drunken drivers and hand out weak sentences (piddly fines and maybe a short suspension of one's license) when no death is involved, and cake walk sentences like ten years when a fatality is involved, almost rewarding drunken driving. This is why drunken drivers take to the roads. They know that they will wind up having more rights than their victims, especially if they are able to find an attorney filthy enough to defend such an act. So much for justice in America.

I feel that any lawyer who defends a drunken driver is reprehensible and should burn in Hell right along with the drunkard he or she defends.

No, there can be no tolerance or forgiveness for drunken drivers. It is my belief that it takes a pathetic, slovenly, evil and malicious person to consume alcoholic beverages, and I further believe that it takes a malicious, bloodthirsty, evil person to drive while drunk. There is no other explanation and it is not up for debate.

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Mentally Ill

Those who are mentally ill often face ridicule and scorn because, among other reasons, some ignorant people think that they are imagining it or faking it. I am here to tell you that that is not so. I am mentally ill and I am not imagining it. And when you read about my experience you will know that I am certainly not faking it. Not when I have been dealing with it for at least 23 years. Not when I have attempted suicide many times because my mind is just that damaged. Not when I have lived the nightmares I have lived.

Throughout my life I have dealt with it. I first noticed it starting deep in the night of the summer's heat in 1991, when voices first told me that I was worthless and that I should just kill myself. I was told to do what was once referred to as trying to commit suicide, but is now more properly referred to as attempting to die by suicide. Since that sleepless, tear-filled night, I have dealt with what I would later--much later--find out was untreated mental illness, which back then had a far more negative connotation than today. I was too afraid to ask for help, so I simply dealt with it, ignored it and basically tried to sweep it under the rug, pretending it never happened, that it only happened to others, not me.

That ignorance and arrogance on my part caused my teenage years to be an absolute hell and I know I acted completely unreasonably as a result; I am sure that I lashed out and acted erractically. Even though I was doing things that were unusual for my age at the time, like running my own Internet fan club for a favorite music group, and had awesome paying jobs that mostly adults had, I was often consumed with the concept of suicide.

There were many times I simply did not want to live, even though I had great opportunities extended to me, as mentioned earlier in this site. I just wanted to die.

My obsession with suicide really started in the eighth grade, where I served as the editor for the junior high yearbook at a school that was a combined junior and senior high school. I was consumed by the idea of taking a knife and slitting my wrists while my blood drained in pools around me. But I was adverse to pain. So, I checked out every library book on the subject that I could until the librarian snitched on me. It was not a cry for help on my part, and in fact, I was enraged when I learned the librarian squealed like a pig. If I wanted to keep it a secret, I would not have used a system where documentation is kept.

Also in that grade, I had what I guess was a serious mental breakdown. Nothing mattered. Being editor did not matter, and all of the opportunities teachers said I would have in life, if I just applied myself, did not matter. I was convinced I had to die by suicide at school. But of course, I had no knife with which to slit my wrist, nor did I have the sleeping pills I kept in my room. So I just told a teacher I was going to go kill myself and left. I was not seeking attention. I was just being matter-of-fact about it. I remember hiding in the spectator area of the football field. Eventually, the nosy security guard found me and insisted that I talk to someone. I was not happy. I had failed. And they would not leave me alone so I could just do it.

Though I was too scared to seek help, I wanted it to stop, no matter what those naysayers who thought I was merely after attention thought. I had turned to suicide attempts as an answer, and obviously I could not even get that right, not out of a desire to fail, but because of poor planning and an inability to tolerate pain. From 1992 until 1996, I ran into problems at home and school in the form of behavioral issues caused by the anguish that was spinning around in my head.

Uncontrollable rages at home and school? Check. Poor grades because I could not concentrate? Check. Was it all because I was just a bad kid? I guess so, because the way to deal with me was detention, grounding and, what the hell, even a beating or two at home.

Surely the beatings would work! Well, no. The first and last time I asked for help, as far as the situation at home, the school was told what they wanted to hear, and suddenly I was just making it all up. That would be the last time I asked anyone for help. As far as I am concerned, the so-called social workers at my junior and senior high schools can burn in Hell for what they did, or rather, didn't do.

When I did attempt to die by suicide throughout junior and senior high school, I tried to complete suicide via several methods: mixing hydrogen peroxide in with soda, taking sleeping pills and cutting. But none of it would work. I got sick a lot, but never succeeded.

Clearly, I was not trying hard enough. I would only get sick or merely injure myself. Why I did not simply jump into traffic or off a bridge is beyond me. I guess, looking back on it, I wanted to ensure not that I would fail and get medical attention, but that I would not get it right the first time and not be able to be revived or wind up paralyzed for the rest of my life. My suicide attempts would continue well into adulthood.

Things became so bad in high school that I would often take an alarmingly dangerous amount of sleeping pills before getting on the bus, hoping to literally drop dead on the bus or in class. Instead of succeeding, I would walk around in a trance, fall asleep in class or generally act abnormally, or so I would imagine.

I would often cry because I would come out of my pathetic attempts alive. I could tell no one for fear of being locked up. I just wanted to die, and it never happened for me. It was heartbreaking. It still is. On an almost daily basis, I go through phases of being content to wanting to die.

There was a time in high school where I contracted endocarditis and had to be hospitalized for two weeks during the end of summer vacation. Because I wanted to start sophomore year on time, they installed a device where I could self-medicate though a tube linked to my heart. That gave me the opportunity to simply ingest air into my heart rather than the saline solution, followed by the medication. Had I gone with the oxygen plan, that would have killed me nearly instantly. But of course, I punked out.

My high school years were filled with days controlled by sleeping pills and other medications that I thought would end my life. Shooting myself was out of the question as I lived in a rural area and not the ghetto, so buying a gun was not an option and anyway I would not have been able to tolerate the pain if I failed. Plus, the criminal implications, if I failed, would be everlasting.

As one might expect, I stumbled and fumbled through my high school classes and probably acted irrationally in general. I cannot say for certain as there is a large portion of my high school years that I simply do not remember. I am fortunate to have earned my diploma. Also, my problems led to me burning bridges in regards to several of the opportunities I had, both inside and outside of school.

Had I been more aware of mental illness in my youth, and for that matter my early adulthood, and what it can do to a person, I would have sought help. I accept responsibility for not doing so. We all make our choices in life, and my choice was to hide my problems as best I could, even from myself. Because I did not seek help, things grew worse whereas perhaps they would not have had I simply asked for help.

Almost certainly as a result of my conditions, I have attempted suicide several times throughout my youth and adult life. I attempted once in 2000, but for some reason had a last-minute change of heart that I now regret. I'd taken a large amount of pills and tried to slit my wrists. In a moment of panic, I changed my mind and I called 911 on myself.

I was rushed to the hospital and my stomach was pumped, along with other testing, questioning and yet more testing. I was never allowed to be alone, except to go to the bathroom and someone was right outside the door. Some social worker came to see me and eventually I was released and sent to a halfway house. In the morning, I simply walked out and to work, complete with bandages on my wrists. I don't know why I was not confined, and why no one stopped me from leaving, but I am glad that I was not detained.

The way that I am comes largely from the fact that I am indeed mentally ill. I did not know that before, but I know it now. First, I should explain what caused me to be aware that I am mentally ill in the first place.

Though I have vague recollection of childhood visits to counselors, where "anger issues" were discussed, I was first officially diagnosed with a mental illness at the age of 25 in 2003, that being depression. I was prescribed Zoloft, but soon stopped taking it because I did not want to get better. That was probably one of many things I have done to stand in the way of my own self-improvement.

In late 2013, a full decade after I had my first signal something was seriously wrong. In the years prior to that, I'd have random, crippling headaches that momentarily rendered me without memory and so forth.

But it was in 2013, following what I would guess was a psychotic break, I had an extremely involuntary four-day confinement (one more than the emergency 72-hour hold on account of the weekend) in a mental facility in 2013--one of several previous confinements in several states throughout my adult life--after an unpleasant incident involving voices, the police (who thankfully were trained on handling a mentally ill subject), an ambulance and immediate confinement to a county mental facility. It was there that someone talked to me. I think. I only remember little slices of time. Apparently, I was in what I did not then but now know to be a manic episode, so I do not remember what was said, but I vaguely remember being given a ton of pills without being told what they were.

I was confined there for hours, well into the late night, until they found a bed for me in a mental ward of a hospital in the next county over. I had to turn over all of my property but for my clothes, sans shoelaces. As I checked in after midnight, bed came first. When morning broke, the wheels started turning. It was at that point that I finally got the help that I needed. The help I did not know I needed. Although I saw a doctor every day, and was checked up upon by nurses daily, not much work got done. It was just pills, monitoring and support groups.

My four days were, therefore, largely uneventful; I was confined over a weekend, so the doctors that made the decisions as to who gets discharged and who stays were made those choices on Monday. While I was in, on the advice of a nurse who told me on my first day that the best way to get out fast is to participate in social groups, I, against every fiber of my being, took part in groups that allowed us to talk about our experiences and in some way help each other. Although socializing made me extremely uncomfortable, testy and resentful that I had to resort to dealing with other people, I have to grudgingly admit that, in the final analysis, it helped.

I took the medication they dispensed every day, and, like clockwork, I was evaulated every day. We were all closely watched for group participation and anything and everything else, right down to personal hygiene. All I will say about that is that shower facilities were made available to all, but all did not partake. I did, however, and thankfully so did my roommate.

When Monday came, I was given an evaluation and asked if I had any thoughts of harming myself or others. I did not. Or so I told the nurse doing the evaluation. Others, no. Me, yes. But that I kept to myself. So, then, I went in front of three doctors and answered their questions. I danced the dance they were looking for, but the fact of the matter is that I belonged in there. But they did not seem to be too interested and I seemed content with that. They evaluated everyone first and then called people back in with their decision. I was discharged and in a taxi cab within two hours. I imagine the feeling was akin to what being released from jail would be like.

Had I not been discharged, I would have called phone numbers all patients are given to access legal representation. Had that happened, I would have gone to court, just like others did every week, to demonstrate to a judge why I should be released. The hospital, of course, would either argue the opposite side of the story or not object. Thankfully, it did not come to that.

Yes, after only a few days (which seemed like years!), I was discharged, and I would soon make a poor choice.

When I was discharged from the mental ward, I was prescribed Risperidone. I filled the prescription right away and began taking the meds as directed. But when I experienced side effects such as random nosebleeds and extreme nausea, I self-medicated, or rather self-unmedicated. I just stopped taking my meds cold. I had already made an appointment at a psychiatrist's office, but I simply did not show, not to be rude, but for fear of being involuntarily committed again. My symptoms, of coure, got worse.

When the voices became frequent, loud and too much to bear, I finally sought help, calling every office that dealt with mental health that I could and that took my insurance. Every office I called told me the same thing: they were not accepting new patients. However, I persisted, and finally found a place that was gladly accepting new patients and they took my insurance. So I made an intake appointment and was evaluated.

At several points throughout my adult life, and only after a series of professional evaluations, I have ultimately been diagnosed with several conditions, which I deal with in some form or another today: bipolar/manic depression disorders, schizophrenia (and yes, it is possible to have both conditions. I live it!), as well as severe schizoid personality disorder and borderline personality disorder (and with it, chronic suicidal ideation, where I think of and plan suicide often, usually daily). And, to a lesser degree, anxiety and paranoia, as well as OCD.

All that listed together seems bad (and it is), but really, the two that affect me the most are the bipolar and schizophrenia.

The schizoid personality disorder is, based on what I have been told and what I believe, likely what explains my non-interest in, and fear of, socializing and my complete lack of interest in any sort of friendship or intimacy, whether physical or emotional. I also feel that borderline personality disorder explains my reckless behavior and instability. My behavior, prior to medication, has been described by others as "self-descructive." I remember nothing of this, so I will have to defer to the professional opinions of those qualified to make such a diagnosis.

The only exception to my lack of desire for sexual relations is when I am in a manic episode, which I will explain in a moment. I sometimes experience hypersexuality, which can be a part of biolar disorder. It is only when I am in a manic state that sexuality interests me, but thankfully I can control myself before disaster strikes. When one is in that phase, one must be very careful of one's actions, because when in that phase, one can often fail to remember a thing after it is over, but can be left with everlasting and unwanted consequences.

Outside of mania, intimacy or affection of any form absolutely does not interest me. I never have truly been interested in it. Keep in mind that simply kissing someone on the cheek or, of course, the lips can expose one to HSV1. And that is a life sentence. Furthermore, kissing is just plain unhygienic. Sexual intercourse, of course, is a filthy, unhealthy, dirty activity rife with germs, bacteria and filth in general, especially given that humans stick their genitals where their partner uses the bathroom. That alone should scare anyone off of sexual intercourse, mental illness or not. It certainly scares me away. But I digress.

There are other symptoms--starting with what I now know are manic episodes--where racing thoughts and the inability to remain sitting still and the inability to concentrate or focus on one task, but many at a time (kind of like a remote control changing channels) and trying to do a lot of things at once makes living a normal life next to impossible. Numerous ideas race into my head and collide with one another, whether it be writing, music or some new business idea. I try to document each idea, but all I end up doing is jump from worthless idea to worthless idea.

Also, there is a definate disconnect from reality, almost as if I am playing a video game that has a point-of-view from the point of the player. Sometimes, I stop responding to a situation and even ignore someone, even walking away. Not out of a desire to be rude, but because I have no recollection of why I am in that situation. I also become very irritable, which has causes people to distance themselves from me. So be it, friend no more, as Metallica would say.

Keep in mind that all of this often happens all happens at once. It is not pleasant. I would not wish any of this on my worst enemy.

Another thing people have told me, and I sometimes notice it myself, is that I am often incapable of making a firm decision, almost to the point that I practically need a legal guardian, or so it seems. I often vacillate between polar opposites on numerous decisions. It seems to happen the most when I am in a manic stage, although I cannot remember much at that point, but it happens often even when I am not. These decisions can be as simple as what option to choose for dinner to life-altering choices. I flip from side to side as often as every few minutes. I simply am incapable of making up my mind, which could leave me with serious financial consequences.

While in a manic fit, I talk endlessly, even when I have run out of useful things to say. It is quite embarrassing, whether in my personal or professional life. Most of the time, however, I choose to say silent, because if I say even one word, I will break into a fit of tears and will be unable to stop.

Unfortunately, there is more. Because I also experience paranoia (where I often feel people and objects are out to get me, and trust me, they are), hallucinations (they have caused numerous embarrassing incidents), an unwarranted increase in my self esteem, and delusional thinking, including delusions of grandeur, the details of which that are far too embarrassing to put into detail, the racing thoughts I have mentioned and several voices that distract me, I am often caught in embarrassing situations. Just as humiliating is when I forget what I am talking about in the middle of a sentence and I stand there, unable to recover my train of thought, having lost it because either the voices, the racing thoughts, or both distracted me to the point of losing touch with reality. The medications that I am on help somewhat, but I still have issues in all of these areas.

As I mentioned, paranoia oft plagues me. One example is when I think I truly committed a horrific crime, too horrific to mention here, back in 1997, where I shot over 40 people to death in a gruesome slaughtering (I did not, have not and never will), and that a man is out to get me to give me the lethal injection on the spot. The fact is that sometimes I am not sure I did not do it, and I have to check newspaper archives to be sure.

I still see him out of the corner of my eye sometimes and I run to get away from him. When I'm not medicated properly, I'm told that I will run away from complete strangers or even tell them to keep the needle away from me, truly thinking that person is out to get me to put me down on the spot. It is humiliating. But that is where medications come into play, which I will discuss in a moment.

Yet another embarrassing symptom of my condition is that I talk to myself, holding entire conversations, gesturing, laughing and all, with myself. I am not talking about the talking to oneself that most anyone does. I am talking entire conversations. The best way that I can describe it is that I am out of my body, talking to myself.

When the talking to myself started, I did not know I was doing it until someone asked me if I was okay and told me what I had been doing. Oftentimes, I truly think I am talking with someone. Sometimes I notice it when I am coming out of the trance or whatever it is, but more often than not, it is mentioned to me and it is quite embarrassing indeed.

I also tend to say or write things that I do not mean, then I mean it, then I do not. I cannot even control that at times. It has caused great pain to others and myself and has caused the loss of personal and business relationships. If I could take back those things, I would in a heartbeat. In the same vein, I treated people who were only trying to help me, even prevent me from making a suicide attempt, horribly. I regret that as well.

Add to that the fact that I am often unable to concentrate and jump from task to task (which made writing this section a long, drawn-out process!), even pausing a television show on my laptop every thirty seconds to check e-mail, and it is quite an obstacle. As I mentioned earlier, it also seems that my life is often like a television, with its channels changed with a remote control at an alarmingly high rate of speed. It is horrific when I am in a manic episode, and less severe but still bad outside of one.

I often find myself out of touch with reality, as mentioned. I have delusions and I go into fantasies. Things that are not real become real to me and I often do not appreciate what reality is. Sometimes, I think about an event and I cannot determine if it really happened or not. This can happen with conversations, financial transactions or certain events.

That inability to account, of course, could prove at best awkward or at worst dangerous someday, but right now it has been nothing more than embarrassing. I also find, and am told, that I fly into uncontrollable rages for no reason at all. The medications have helped reduce that, but it still happens. I've destroyed things that were near and dear to me and I've ruined a l lot of technological items.

As a result of the diagnosed conditions that I have mentioned, I am on several medications for mental illness, including Divalproex 1500 mg (aka Depakote), Quetiapine Fumarate 300 mg (aka Seroquel) and Alprazolam 0.5 mg (aka Xanax).

These medications eliminate or at least reduce my symptoms to a point where I can function just well enough to earn a paycheck and barely well enough to function in society. While it is true that my medications do reduce the serious suicidal thoughts and the paranoia, the voices never completely go away. And I am never completely free of the suicidal thoughts or the paranoia. Also, several times a week, I fluctuate between planning suicide down to the last detail to not wanting to do it at all.

Because of my medications, made possible by a wonderful and generous health insurance plan, I am perfectly capable of functioning in the workplace--and I have--even being dubbed as the employee of the month at one point. I do, however, find moments where I need to step away to a private area at work and cry, for no logical reason. My emotions constantly rise and fall, even with the medication, but I find myself to function, at least at a minimal level, at work and in society in general.

In addition to the fact that I am mentally ill, I have to be aware that Alzheimer's Disease runs in my family, having killed my grandmother after erasing her memory and robbing her of having enjoyable final years. That alone is a tempting reason to attempt to die by suicide, because I may very well suffer the same fate.

I deal with the difficulties that come with the conditions that I have, such as the severe mood swings (inexplicably ranging from euphoria to rage to majorly depressed) and hearing voices that tell me, among other things, to do awful things. They say very mean things and they sometimes hurt me to the point where I break down crying. I am embarrassed when others hear me yelling at the voices to shut up. Sometimes, I have fleeting thoughts of just ending it once and for all, so I do not have to deal with it any longer. The thought of just fading to black, like a television station signing off, comforts me.

All is not lost when it comes to the voices. The voices that condemn me, that yell at me and that make my life miserable also protect me at times, as they have, oddly, for as long as I can remember. They let me know when someone or something is out to get me, and I abandon that situation by any means available to me at that time, and I mean any.

In the few situations where I mix company with someone, I respond best when there is a set plan and schedule. I do not respond well to spontaneous plans or anything that deviates, in even the slightest way, an already-set plan or schedule.

When I am alone--which I prefer to be, and as such I am friendless and have no desire to make friends--mostly at night falling asleep, it is sometimes a private hell trying to calm my mind down and think rationally and with one thought at a time. As I have mentioned, there are times I will cry for no reason, even during the day. If I am where I am with my meds, I shudder to think what would happen if I were to ever be unable to take them. I am noticing things are getting worse and not better, so I do not know what the future holds. I picture myself walking around with black stitches on my wrists following a failed wrist-cutting attempt. It is not pleasant. As I stated before, I do not wish any of this on my worst enemy.

Through counseling, I have come to realize that poor choices I made in the past were made in part because of my mental illness, especially since I was untreated. However, that is an explanation, not an excuse, and I still take responsibility for and regret those choices. More importantly than that, I have long since abandoned that behavior.

For example, I now stand in firm opposition to bullying and trolling in all its forms, and I find these to be no longer small problems to ignore, but an epidemic that must be resolved. Words can hurt, regardless of whether one is mentally ill or not. If even one person takes their life by suicide because of bullying, that is one too many. And even if there is no suicide, bullying is wrong. If the person being bullied has a mental illness, the bullying can push that person over the edge, and that is just cruel.

I am ashamed to admit that my words--written and spoken because I was acting out, trying to deal with my own pain and perhaps punishing everyone for my illness--over the years have hurt a lot of people, and no apology would be adequate. I am especially ashamed to admit that iin 2011, I mocked a celebrity who also has bipolar disorder. Of course, I did not know then that I too had it, but regardless it was wrong and downright mean of me. I do not know why I did it, but no matter the reason, it was not nice and it was not acceptable. I have since reached out to the person's representative to relay my apology.

Going forward, I am choosing to not mock or bully anyone, or intentionally say mean things. I was bullied a lot growing up, so I know how it hurts and as such, I really should have known better. But I am putting that in the past and looking to the future, where I see myself helping, not hurting, those with mental illnesses and those who are being bullied.

There should never be a stigma or stereotype attached to mental illness. People who are diagnosed with mental illness are just as normal and valid as someone who has not. And, although I have no problem with those who are legitimately disabled collecting disability benefits, I do not, because I am capable of working and I do. There are those who unfortunately use their condition to get out of earning a living, but for as long as I am mentally capable, I will not be one of them.

Being mentally ill took some getting used to once I learned what was wrong with me. For all those years that I didn't seek help, I knew something was wrong with me, but I pushed all the problems down, much like trash in a garbage can, hoping I could hide it. Well, the trash spilled out in 2013. My official mental illness diagnosis hit me like a ton of bricks. It was humbling to learn that my conditions are considered a disability. I never thought that would happen to me.

If you are thinking about suicide, talk to someone. You can also call 800-273-TALK. If you are in crisis, call 911. There are people who want to and will help you. You are worth it. You do matter. If you know of someone who is threatening to or thinking of suicide, get them help.

I have been through a lot in my life. Multiple suicide attempts. A heart problem in my teenage years that almost killed me. Almost going into septic shock after waiting well over a few days to seek medical attention for a burst appendix. It was so bad that as soon as the CAT scan or whatever came back, they rushed me through the halls, into an elevator and into surgery. One doctor took care of the appendix while another worked on the spetic issue.

All the doctors who were aware of this were surprised, shocked even, that I survived. It was a matter of hours, maybe even a day, before I would have gone into septic shock, exacerbated by my heart condition, and dropped dead. I remember thinking, upon learning that, that maybe that would not have been such a bad thing. Yes, I have been through a lot, and sometimes I have to wonder why that is.

By all logic, following the suicide attempts and my medical issues, I should without a doubt be deep in the cold, cold ground. I cannot explain why I am still here.

What I want you, the reader, to take away from this is that I am sharing my experience not for attention or pity, but to show that those with mental illnesses are real people. You may encounter several of us every day and not even know that you have. We hold jobs, function in society and appear "normal," because we are normal.

I openly admit that I did not fully appreciate how serious mental illness is until it happened to me. What I have learned from my experience is this: if you encounter someone who may be having mental issues, please do not judge or mock that person. Show a little compassion, too, because take it from me, during an episode, it can be quite traumatic and almost too much to bear.

Those with mental illness should be treated with the same love and respect as those with other disabilities. And, the mentally ill should not be feared. Yes, there are those who intentionally do not take their medications and they do awful, violent things as a result of their illness, but they are the exception, not the rule. Most of us, myself included, take our medications as a responsibility towards not only ourselves, those who love us and society in general. Not all of us are violent or dangerous.

I hope by sharing my experiences with mental illness that I can help someone else who may be having struggles in the same area. You are not alone and there is always help available to you. Do not ever give up and never let others bring you down.

As you have read, I have survived a lot, physically speaking. By all medical logic, I should be long dead. Being mentally ill has given me numerous challenges, and although it is tempting to brag that it will never have victory over me, I am fully aware that I may one day make the ultimate decision. However, with medication, regular care and a support system, I just may survive.

Anti-Social

I never have much cared for socializing to begin with, perhaps or perhaps not due to my previously mentioned mental illness, so it follows that I tend to not be around other people in social settings. I never have. I do not attend parties, raves, shindigs, hoedowns, hootenannies, celebrations, feasts, potlucks, balls, banquets, get-togethers, reunions, feasts, functions, gatherings, meetings, picnics, box socials, ice cream socials, rallies, outings, churches, revivals, square dances, support groups or anything of the sort.

I do not do what many people, for whatever reason, seem to do, which is engage in "small talk" in certain social situations. I am quite content to wait in the queue, using my iPhone® until I am called. I do not see the advantages of socialization, nor am I in any way interested in so-called "friendships" and so forth.

It is a shame that society has deemed it normal to socialize while punishing those who do not walk in lockstep with that mindset with labels that pertain to their mental health. Wanting to be alone and not wanting to socialize are traits that are not abnormal, no matter what any health care professional may say.

Indeed, I do enjoy alone time, and I insist upon getting as much of it as humanly possible.

 

 

 

 

Contact Michael Crook

Electronic mail: website@michaelcrook.org

(Messages sent to this address go to a third party who first screens messages and only sends appropriate ones to me. Abusive/bullying comments are reported to ISP's, employers and/or law enforcement, and may be exposed online for all to see, with the identifying information of the sender. Guide yourself accordingly.)