I have been involved with SL since 2004, periodically leaving and returning, as most do.
I have been diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder with suicidal ideation. That basically means that in my depressed episodes I constantly think about and plan the taking of my own life. Whilst in this state I fool myself into waiting “just one more hour, if you still feel the same then do it”, until finally the feeling passes. It can take days for the feeling to subside and after this I am totally drained of energy. As hard as I try though, sleep does not come easy. Another thing I do when the dark thoughts come is to paint. I use digital art to ride the feelings out and when I start to paint I seem to paint as fast and as detailed as I can. The feelings pass after concentrating on small areas for considerable lengths of time.
So how did I get to this point....? I was diagnosed with this despicable illness in September 2010 at the ripe old age of 52. But wait there's more...apparently I have had this illness for the past 14 years or so, and have gone through that part of my life with no medication no guidance no support and no knowledge. I just thought I was the cause of everything that was going wrong in my life, my marriage, my work, my kids..........etc etc..
Understanding. That is the key. But most don’t. I have a relative who had enquired of my doctor after I was diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder with suicidal ideation, ‘so... does that mean he has a mental illness? ”. I kid you not.
I hate being a conversation starter at ladies craft groups or being offered ‘non professional’ opinions on how to ‘beat it’ or my favourite, ‘pull yourself out of it’.
Adding a diagnosis or prognosis, or a cause or a presumption of how this happened is the underpinning of all that is misunderstood or not understood about mental illness. What I’ve found is people think they know all about your condition, in fact, all mental health issues. How?.....By listening to other people with the same assumptions with no factual knowledge at all.
Everything that people say in their lunch rooms or dinner parties, out and about in everyday conversation about so and so’s mental condition, effects all parts of a person with these conditions lives.
Whatever you discuss whatever your opinion is will be disseminated to someone else, have their spin on it and then passed on again. Pretty soon what started as conjecture and assumption becomes fact, in the eyes of those with little understanding.
These ‘facts’, affect our employment prospects, our social interactions, our relationships, and our ability to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Instead, a lot of us only see that bright light at the end of the tunnel, calling our name. ‘Facts’ that are being perpetuated until those soles afflicted and exhausted of will, believe those ‘facts’ themselves.
So I re-entered SL not to fall deeper into a fantasy world that I could easily let consume me but to seek others like me. And I found them. Hundreds of them, of us. We all use this platform as a treatment tool as our own research tool not for diagnostic. Crickey my own 3 doctors have even asked me to prepare a paper for them so they can look at commending SL to their other patients, such has been the improvement in me. I have found that unlike real life I can help people like me in SL. However, I have lost most of my skill sets that you all take for granted in your every day lives. Conversations, humour even feelings of intimacy can be rediscovered in a safe environment like second life. That is how I have progressed, through learning again, those skills in SL and slowly introducing them to real life. So for those of you who poo poo the idea of researchers asking questions about SL/RL remember, no personal information is given out. They have only known me as Danny Noyes. I have participated in many over the last few months including agnepolder’s. And besides I don’t care who knows about me. If I stay hidden the disease wins again, and I’ve had enough of loosing. I want to show myself so that others may want to join me.
I’ve read in the forums yet again today complaints about Lindens doing so and so to the viewer and causing lag etc etc. Hardly a day goes by when someone else doesn’t complain. Lindens should be congratulated and thanked for providing this type of environment for people like me to try and gain their lives back. I bet in that warehouse on Linden Alley where Linden World began, they never though it could be used in such a positive, beneficial way for people suffering mental health issues, an opinion that has been expressed to me more often in the past few weeks.
I have formed a group The SL Group for Mental Illness, all are welcome. And you can see examples of artists work who suffer from mental illness at The Art of Mental Illness - Art Gallery in Saphira. (You can find it in search)