When It’s No Longer in the Cards

**** Trigger Warning: This post may contain triggers for some readers. Please proceed with caution.

I guess we all reach that point in our lives when we realize that certain events or special moments will never happen for us. That realization has once again come upon me today, as we have welcomed a new addition to our huge family. One of my cousins had his second child today, a baby boy. An adorable and brand new life, filled with so much hope, dreams and innocence. Ah, innocence… it’s the only time in any human being’s life that is filled with true innocence. He’s free of all the troubles, stresses and pain with which life is filled.

It’s a special moment when the birth of a child occurs, especially when it’s one in our own immediate circle. However, as much as I am filled with happiness and thankfulness that my new little cousin is here safely and healthily, I’m still a bit saddened. It’s a reminder for me that I will never experience that joy of having my own child to hold someday. Selfish? Maybe, it is. After all, it’s a wonderful moment for our family right now, but I can’t help what feelings are going through both my mind and heart.

It Used to Be a Dream

Steve Martin in 1989's movie, "Parenthood"

Steve Martin in the 1989 movie “Parenthood”

When I was a kid, I never wanted children. I wasn’t one of those little girls who dreamed of having a baby of my own someday. Maybe it had to do with the fact that I grew up with most of my nieces and nephews. I was exposed to the real life of being a parent at a young age. It wasn’t all roses as I learned early on, and so it set my mind on a different path. I was a tomboy too, so not sure if that made a difference. I still loved playing with dolls or stuffed animals and pretending they were my kids, but that wasn’t what I wanted in my future. I dreamed of being a career woman. I never thought of it that way until high school, but that’s what I wanted. I wanted to be everything that the world had to offer. One year I was going to be an astronaut, the next a doctor, then for a few years I was going to be a teacher. Then, there was the time I was going to go into astrophysics, but changed my mind. I wanted to be everything. Heck, when I hit thirteen, I was going to be an actress and begged my mom to let me go to auditions. I am grateful she didn’t allow me, ‘cause my personality is not that of someone who can handle such a career. I think I wanted that more back then, because I thought it would make me more popular in school. I wanted so desperately to be accepted.

Thankfully, it was not too long after that, when high school came into the picture. It was then that my love for three quite different careers starting taking center stage. I wanted to be in law enforcement, nursing, and filmmaking. I told you… three very different careers. Filmmaking seemed to always be on the top, though. I saved up for two years to afford my own video camera to make my own movies. And, when I finally did just that, I wrote, directed, edited and produced my own movies that starred my nieces and nephews. As I’ve stated before, my love for art and writing won the battle between the three.

I tried to be a cop, but it didn’t quite work out. I tried to be a nurse, and well, that should have worked, but I chickened out. However, my prospects eventually took me to graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Media Arts and Design and I now write more than ever, especially with my blog.

So, where am I going with this? Well, I guess what I’m trying to say is that dreams and goals change, either voluntarily or involuntarily. When it comes to my dreams of becoming a mother someday, those were somewhat taken from me against my will.

What Happened to Motherhood?

As I stated, I never dreamed of motherhood as a child. Not even through my teenage years. All I wanted was to be successful and work. I wanted to be someone of whom my parents could be proud. However, then when I was in my early twenties I went to a family reunion. I was standing there next to my sister as one of my cousin’s little girls (about four-years-old at the time) was dancing with my uncle, her grandpa. She looked so cute and was laughing and smiling. I watched her and suddenly I blurted out loud, “I want one of those.” My sister – who always wanted nieces and nephews from her sister to add to those whom she already loved dearly from our brothers – became excited to say the least. It was the first time I had ever shown interest in becoming a mom someday. Having kids? Wow! It was actually finally in the cards for me. I actually finally wanted some of my own. It was a revelation for me that same day as it was for my sister, and I thought maybe… just maybe… I’d someday be walking into a family reunion with a baby Summer in my arms.

Unfortunately, that is no longer in the cards for me.

Some may be asking why. Why would that suddenly not be in the cards for my life? I’m not physically unable to become pregnant. It’s prime time for me to have a child. I’m the youngest of all of my female cousins, and the youngest of all of my cousins with the exception of one of my male cousins who is one month younger than me. He’s also now expecting to be a father soon. They’re all having kids right now. It’s baby central in my family. So, why would I not be able to become a mother? The answer is simple… because I have bipolar.

Now to make it clear, I am not saying that having bipolar makes becoming a parent impossible. Plenty of bipolar parents are out there in this world and are successfully raising their beautiful children and doing a damn good job at it. Mental illness does not stop one from becoming a parent, most of the time. However, for myself and others whom I know throughout this blogging community, I know mental illness has been a reason for not wanting children. We have our reasons and they are enough to make us choose our own personal paths in regards to this subject in life. Months back I read a great post by Cate from Infinite Sadness… or Hope? It was on this same topic and I thought she was so brave to talk about it. She inspired me to write a topic on my own reasons for not becoming a parent myself, but I didn’t have the courage to do so back then. However, now after the birth of my cousin’s baby, I suddenly feel I can finally write about it.

Am I Afraid?

Is it fear? Yes, a little of it is being afraid of not being able to take care of my child properly. I can’t even properly take care of myself during a bad episode, so how can I think that I can take care of a child. A child is fully dependent upon his or her parent(s). I do not want to leave my child struggling for my attention or just a hug from mommy when I hate myself and can barely get myself into the shower. I’m afraid of scarring my child.

Fear also comes into play in regards to genetics. Bipolar has a genetic connection, and the fact that I could pass it down to my children is not lost on me. I don’t want to have children, only to have them suffer through a mental illness that I know I gave to them. And, to be fully honest, I’m also feeling selfish here too. I don’t think I can handle dealing with my own problems with this illness, while also trying to handle the problems of my child’s illness (if he or she were to have it). As I’ve said, it’s hard enough for me to manage my own issues, and I just don’t think I have it inside of me to also manage my child’s. I know… that’s selfish.

Finally, and probably the strongest reason for my not wanting children anymore, is one that is difficult for me to share. I have family and friends who read this blog (only those whom I have the utmost trust in), and I’m worried that this might worry them. Please do not feel worried (anyone who is reading this), as this is not how I feel right now, it’s just that I’ve been there many times before and it is from those places that I write this.

This life is hard. It’s hard for any human being who lives and breathes on this planet. It doesn’t matter how one’s brain functions, the fact is that life can suck horribly. It can be extremely beautiful, but let’s face it; it has some horrible moments too. Well, throw a mental illness on top of all of that, and it’s a mixture of much more distress, heartache, crushing blows and a world of stigma from people who do not understand what it truly is like to live with it all.

It’s no secret that the pain of mental illness can lead to suicide. It’s a sad statistic that no one really likes to address often, but it’s real and should be addressed. I’ve been in that place many times since my symptoms began to arise in my late teens/early twenties. I’ve hurt beyond words and felt as if this world wouldn’t miss me if I were gone, because I was merely a burden on my family and friends and everyone else. When no one understands, it makes it hard to find hope that all will get better.

As I stated already, I’m not in that place right now. I am thankful for that. But, the fact of the matter is, I have been in that place too many times to ignore it. And, it is for that reason most of all that I no longer want to bring children into this world. I guess it’s a reason that’s based upon both love and selfishness. It’s love for a child not yet born. I would not want him or her to have to grow up without a mom, and leave that child to wonder if it was his or her existence that made mommy go away. I would not want to leave that child with the thoughts that he or she was not loveable enough for his or her mommy to stay. I guess that is where the love foundation starts, but that’s also where it ends.

The selfish reason is one of much less love. I hope this doesn’t make me look like a horrible person. But, I don’t want anything tying me down to this life. I don’t want to have to worry about a child depending on me as a mother, when I’m done with this life and ready to leave on my own accord. I don’t want anything holding me back when the time comes that I’ve finally had enough of the pain and hopelessness. I’m not saying that I will definitely take myself out of this world someday, but as I look forward in my future, I can’t see a real life. I can’t see myself in five years, ten years, or twenty years. I can’t see it in my mind. As a child and a teenager I could. I had dreams and hopes. I had goals of how I’d reach what I wanted. Now, I live each day, one-day-at-a-time. I have dreams of where my writing can maybe someday take me. I’m writing a novel and hope that someday I can reach a point of publication. But, at the same time, I can’t truly see it. My life is bits and snippets of production today, in my present life. But, in my future, those bits and snippets are even smaller. So, if I can’t see a clear future for myself, then how can I bring a child into this world knowing that I may just very well want to leave it someday? I don’t want that hovering over me.

I know this probably not only sounds awfully selfish, but also extremely dark and morbid. However, as I’ve said it’s based around how I’ve been in the past, when the depressions have gotten me so low that I feel that the best option would be to leave forever. I’m not discounting the possibility that someday I may just be an 80-year-old woman sitting on her porch watching the children play along her street. But, what I do know is that those children won’t be my grandchildren. Believe me when I say that is one goal of mine, though, that I can at least hope will happen. I may not be able to see it clearly in my future, but I do truly hope it will happen. I want to survive this illness. I want to make it.

A Closing…

I don’t want to leave this post on a depressing note. I know that’s kind of hard to do after laying all that out there for the world to read, but I want to end this post with a bit of hope.

I may not want to be a mother anymore, but I will say this… I absolutely love the little ones in my family. They are all special to me and I have a special place in my heart for each and every one. Not all women are meant to be mothers, and I think some of us who aren’t are accepting of that. I know I am. I am saddened that I will never have a little one of my own, but I’m not so saddened that it will kill my spirit of love. I love children, and the ones in my circle of family and friends will always be ones that I look forward to seeing. I have been blessed to watch one of my cousin’s three little ones grow up before my eyes. I held them each as newborns and they now sit on my lap with such happy innocence in their eyes. I’m watching these three little ones, as well as three of my great-nephews, grow up and form their own personalities and become these little people who will someday run this world.

As a child, I grew up with most of my nieces and nephews; therefore I didn’t get the chance to appreciate that growth in them, because I was growing myself. But, now I am old enough to watch it and take it all in and it never fails to make me look on in awe at their development.

I’ll never be a mom in this lifetime, but I can still love on the children who are in my life and be the best aunt, cousin, or friend to them. Mental illness may have taken motherhood away from me for my own personal reasons, but it can’t take away my love.

So, take that, bipolar… I’m stronger than you thought.

 

This is a beautiful song about parenthood. Written and performed by Ben Folds for his daughter Gracie.

 

Living in a Fantasy World? You’re Not Alone

Back in April of last year, I published a post on a special and – until I announced it on my blog – private experience. The post was called Living in a Fantasy World, and it was my way of finally revealing this place to where I go when I need to escape from this world of reality. I tried my best to explain what such an experience feels like and how it looks when my mind is lost in this world of imagination. It’s a unique place in which to be, that’s for certain, and it’s something that I wish I could bring you all into for at least a day. Then again, it’s also quite personal and a place of refuge and meditation, so it’s probably best it stays that way. However, I’m so glad that I decided to share it on my blog, because it has been a place for others to feel comfort. I have received many comments on my post since April, but especially in more recent months, which has inspired me to want to write this follow-up.

Refuge and Meditation

Refuge and meditation… those are two words that I hadn’t really associated with my fantasy world until I finally told my therapist about it, and posted here on my blog. When I first revealed my fantasy world to my therapist a couple of years ago, I was so worried that she would think of me as being completely crazy and in dire need of more help than previously realized. I mean think about it. When I enter this world, I become lost inside of it. I’m not just this world in my mind as I lay down on my bed. No, I am ‘lost’ inside of it in every sense of the word. I am mentally, emotionally and physically there. I see it, feel it, touch it, and even more dramatically… live it. It is my world for that time being. It becomes my reality and it is the most magnificent place to be, because I become free of all pain, stress, and feelings of being the hopeless and pitiful loser that I so often feel like in the real world. Therefore, when the time came that I revealed this private world to my therapist, I expected the worst reaction. Although, she had proved herself trustworthy to me, which is why I finally felt I could tell her. So, I guess there was a part of me that hoped that she’d respond in a different way. Well, she didn’t let me down.

The telling of my world to my therapist was a wonderful experience. It started off nerve-wracking as heck, as I recall not even being able to look at her when I talked about it. I also read to her a description about it that I thought would help to better express this world to her. That helps with the no eye contact thing too. And, her response was so supportive that it made me feel like such a better person than I had before that day. Prior to that day, I felt as if there was something seriously wrong with me. Ok, yeah, I have bipolar, so it’s not like I can say that I’m all ok in the head. My family and friends can tell you just how bad I can be at times. But, this isn’t anything about mental illness. My worries weren’t of having a mental illness (as this was prior to my diagnosis anyway), but rather, that I was somehow becoming distanced from reality and heading to a bad place of losing touch with it all together. I worried that I was somehow stuck in some unending childhood. I felt almost as if I was stunted somehow and that I was unable to leave this world of make-believe that I should have left by the time I hit my teenage years. I felt that it was time to grow up, and yet I was struggling to do so.

Well, my therapist – over the course of quite some time of discussing it in the sessions to follow – helped me to realize quite the opposite. She told me that there wasn’t anything wrong with having a fantasy world. She thought it was such a great and beautiful thing to have in my life and I should embrace it. Wow! Embrace it? Really? I never expected that to come out of her mouth, that’s for sure. Yet, it did. She had also began to help me understand just how important this world had become for me. I wasn’t diagnosed with bipolar until late 2009, and up until that point I was lost for years in a downward spiral into what can only be described as my own personal hell on earth. It’s quite an upside-down-topsy-turvy-complete-loss-of-control feeling when the world continues to move along normally around you, while you are slowly disintegrating into nothingness.

So, what does this have to do with my fantasy world? Well, my therapist helped me to finally see that my world of imagination was in actuality a refuge for me. It had become the place that would save my life. I can’t say that I would have ended my life without it. I know I wanted to many times, but I can’t say that I really would have done so, because obviously I didn’t. But, I also wonder now, thanks to my therapist, if maybe my fantasy world saved me too. When I was too depressed, then my mind was too exhausted and numb to be able to imagine my place of happiness. Happiness was gone. Before I even reached those points, though, I would sometimes head into that world and it would help me during those times. I would feel good for that period of time. As I wrote in my initial post back in April, coming out of that world was a different story. If I was interrupted somehow, then it was jarring and I was left angry and not the most pleasant person to be around. That’s still the case. If I naturally come out of it, though, I do not feel like that. Unfortunately, though, the depression will return and often sometimes worse knowing that my world of success is only in my head.

However, through it all back then, that world still provided me with a refuge during times that could have otherwise been spent obsessing on the negative that surrounded me. It did indeed save my life during those times when I had no therapist, no psychiatrist, no meds, and no diagnosis as for what on earth was happening to me. It gave me a place to go where my life was not upside down. That is where what my therapist described makes so much sense. And, I thank her for helping me to view my world as more than just some childish, losing-control-of-my-reality type of experience. And, then there is the blogging community. After my posting, I had several responses from people who read my post and not only appreciated me sharing, but helped me to feel like it was a place of meditation and importance that was creative. They, along with my therapist, helped me to see just how much creativity it takes to go into such a world in my mind, and that it was something that I should embrace and of which I should be proud as well.

I now realize, loud and clear, that being able to escape into my fantasy world is a gift that God has given me. He knew I would need some way to survive through some of the most tormented times of my life. And, having that place allows me to escape from a world that does not understand me. No matter how much my loved ones may try (for which I appreciate and love them dearly, and hope they never leave me), they just can’t understand what I feel inside. What those thoughts are that drill into my skull and cause pain that makes me want to use a sledgehammer to shatter my dysfunctional brain. The pain it feels to be high on top of the world. To feel happy, carefree, and enjoying life like I have the right. But then, suddenly crash to the bottom and wind up curled up on the couch in tears and exhaustion, and many times not even know what triggers it. It’s not fair, but mental illness isn’t fair. It sucks beyond all meaning of the word ‘suck’.

Why I Wrote This Post

As I stated in the beginning of this post, I wanted to write a follow up to my previous post back in April on this subject. The reason for this is due to all of the recent feedback I’ve had on it. I feel that lately, people have been suddenly hitting on the post again and a few have commented recently, and that tells me that people are searching for the topic. These people want answers to what I also so long wanted answers. I couldn’t find many responses or articles on this topic back when I used to search for it, and so it makes me feel good that my post can help others to not feel so alone. I felt alone when I couldn’t find any, and that just made me feel – even more so – that I was losing touch with reality.

One person, in a recent comment, talked about his/her own experience with their fantasy world, and then followed that up with, “Am I crazy?” I assured them that they are not, and thankfully, due to the loving support and advice that I have received from many of you and my therapist, I was able to say that with confidence.

I find it quite telling that such a post has been hit on so much recently. I think more people out there have these worlds, and want an answer to that same question… “Am I crazy?” I know I always wanted that same answer. I want each and every one of those people out there who are searching for answers on this subject to realize that there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a fantasy world. Take it from someone who has one and has been in that boat of worrying about my sanity due to it… there isn’t anything wrong with it. I love that I can finally say that. It’s OK. It’s our normal. It may not be the normal for most people in this world, but it is for many more than who come forward. And, that’s ok. No one has to reveal this place of private pleasure to anyone. It’s your world and no one else’s. If you choose to share about it, then great! If not, then great too! It’s great, because that is your choice, and you need to do what is best for yourself.

It’s important for me to emphasize that just because you may have a fantasy world, that doesn’t mean you have a mental illness. Such worlds can be a place for all people, no matter what is the source of his or her stress, pain, and need for a refuge. My therapist told me that. So, please don’t think that just because you have a special fantasy world that you go to, that it means you are suffering from bipolar like myself, or any other mental illness. It can just mean that you have a wonderful imagination of which you should be proud. And, hey, if you do happen to have a mental illness too… well, that’s OK too. You are not alone. We are all in this together. Mental illness or not, you are not alone.

Tap Into Your Imagination’s Energy

One of my favorite artists, Greg Olsen, and his perfect illustration of imagination.

One of my favorite artists and writers, Greg Olsen, and his perfect illustration of imagination.

Fantasy worlds can be a place for great material for books too. Think about it… our imaginations are taking us to places of happiness and enjoyment. Or, maybe for some, it takes them to places of darkness and scary scenarios, but if that’s what provides them with some sort of response that they desire, then that’s a place which is welcomed. It can be a place where one gathers up all of his or her creative thoughts and turns it into material for art, writing, music, or even interpretive dance. Basically, wherever your heart and mind can take you. So many places can be reached in reality with the content that comes out of our imaginative minds during these periods of fantasy. When you come out of those places, write it down. Have a notebook or journal nearby, and just jot down different parts if you can. And, who knows, someday you may come up with your own way of expressing it all to the world to share with others. Suddenly, the world can go into your world and experience the same joy, fear, or wherever you want to take them.

My therapist told me that another way to view it all, along with my dark thoughts that stem from my obsessive-compulsive disorder, is that Mary Shelly, Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe, and many others, all had to get their ideas from somewhere. Sure, the culture around them can inspire them, but without their own dark thoughts and imaginations of their own, they wouldn’t have been able to sculpt those inspirations into the works of Frankenstein, The Shining, and The Tell-Tale Heart. Those works have entertained generations, and in some cases for over one hundred years. That says a lot. I can now understand what my therapist meant by, ‘embrace it’.

Those of use who can relate to having a fantasy world have so much in common. We have a shared experience that not all can say they have. So, be proud of your fantasy worlds, no matter what they may be. Take them for what they are and enjoy every minute of your experiences, because it truly is a special place to have the ability to visit. And, even better than that… you own it! It’s your world! Your mind created it, no one else! You took inspirations from around you and created a world of your own. How freakin’ awesomely amazing is that!?!? EMBRACE IT!

In closing, I would just like to add that to those who do not go to these places of wonder and enjoyment, please do not look down upon those of us who do. For we may just be the people that provide the entertainment that you may one day add to your list of all-time favorites.

 

A song about loving imagination, by one of my favorite musicians, Adam Young (Owl City). Please give it a listen… it’s a beautiful song.

 

 

Give Yourself Credit

Did you know the people that are the strongest are usually the most sensitive? Did you know the people who exhibit the most kindness are the first to get mistreated? Did you know the one who takes care of others all the time are usually the ones who need it the most? Did you know the 3 hardest things to say are I love you, I’m sorry, and Help me. Sometimes just because a person looks happy, you have to look past their smile and see how much pain they may be in. To all my friends who are going through some issues right now–Let’s start an intention avalanche. We all need positive intentions right now. If I don’t see your name, I’ll understand. May I ask my friends wherever you might be, to kindly copy and paste this status for one hour to give a moment of support to all those who have family problems, health struggles, job issues, worries of any kind and just need to know that someone cares. Do it for all of us, for nobody is immune. I hope to see this on the walls of all my friends just for moral support. I know some will!! I did it for a friend and you can too. You have to copy & paste this one, no share button, because kindness is a effort given from the ♥ not the press of a button…

~Author Unknown

 

Occasionally, a post will appear in my Facebook news feed that really captures my attention. I pay attention to all of the posts that I see in my feed, but some really stand out. The above quote is one that recently did just that. A cousin of mine posted it on her timeline and when I read it, I felt it was one of those “wow” moments. I wish I knew who is the original author of the post, but unfortunately I do not have that information. As I read it, I felt like it was talking about me. Sure, lots of inspirational quotes and others can make us feel that way, as that’s the point of them. However, this one hit me on a more personal level.

As I’ve discussed before, I am not a thick-skinned person. I’m often reminded that I’m overly sensitive, thin-skinned and definitely not “tough as nails”. I get my feelings hurt easily (which a lot has to do with past experiences and just overall low self-esteem). Although, as I’m reminded of these personality traits of mine, I’m also consistently told by people who know me that I need to become tougher. I need to basically suck things up and get over them. As if it was that simple. That’s great that some people can do that in their lives. I commend them and wish dearly that I could do just that. But, I cannot. It’s not me, and I would hope others would understand that having such expectations about me and others, is never going to help change that. I am what I am.

So, as I read the above Facebook post, I felt as if it was speaking directly to me, and I realized that I needed to share this with more than just the people on my friend’s list. I reposted it on my timeline, but wanted to share it with more people. As I said, I wish I could give credit to the person who wrote this, but it was nowhere in the post. However, whoever did write it deserves a great deal of respect and I thank him or her.

One of the lines that made me feel that I should share it on my blog was the part that talks about “just because a person looks happy, you have to look past their smile and see how much pain they may be in.” This reminds me of mental illness so much. Of course it’s not just directed at mental illness, but rather all difficulties in life. However, it definitely fits one of the common areas of mental illness… façades.

I think many of us with mental illness put on those façades for people we know because we don’t want them to feel stressed. We don’t want them to see us as whiney or complaining, or just downright unbearable. We also don’t want to have the response of “get over it” being laid upon us. It’s just easier to hide it all sometimes, than to let others see what we are really feeling.

I have often discussed about the fact that I have worn a façade for years, trying to hide what I felt and dealt with from everyone I knew. It started to become noticeable to others, but they still didn’t realize just what was going on ‘cause I would wear a smile. I didn’t share my life with them. I didn’t want anyone to see me as anything other than happy, optimistic Summer. I mean who would want to lose such a great image of oneself to others? I loved being able to be this person with whom my friends and family loved to hang out. I loved being that person with a smile, not a frown. And the times I wouldn’t be able to hide what was going on inside, I’d be told just to cheer up. “Smile, Summer.” “Hey, Pickle face”. Such phrases that probably meant very little to the persons speaking them, but in fact they meant a lot to me. They told me that I couldn’t show my true self.

I still hang onto that façade as I continue to have difficulty with people seeing when I’m struggling. I don’t want to burden them any more than I know I already do. My blog, however, has been a way for me to express myself and let out who I am and what I feel, without placing that bag of trash all over my friends and family. Does it still show through to them at times? Yes, and I hate that a great deal. But, at least this has been a place for me to release some of it out into cyberspace, as opposed to in the direction of my loved ones.

I like what the Facebook quote states, because it tries to teach others to think with their hearts, rather than just knee-jerk reactions. It tries to show people that just because someone seems weak in your view that they can in reality be stronger than yourself. It also tries to remind those of us who deal with these same personality traits, that it’s ok to have them. Just because others have an easier time dealing with life experiences, doesn’t mean that we are feeble for not being able to do the same. I think people with mental illnesses need to be reminded of this. We need to be able to respect ourselves better, and also respect the struggles with which we deal on a daily basis. Just as everyone else in this world deserves the right to pride themselves on how they handle their personal struggles, so do we who suffer from mental illness. Some may see us as overly sensitive due to how we react to various life experiences, but in reality we are just more in touch with emotions than others. The fact that we deal with intense experiences within our own minds makes us more in touch of what those emotions feel like. They make us better understand that when others are hurting, we don’t know what they are feeling, but we can offer support based off of what we know we’ve felt. We can pass along compassion that so often is not distributed among the mental health community.

I’ve read on many websites online, how people who live or know those with bipolar think we are selfish, overly sensitive, dramatic, and bringers of nothing but trouble. Well, I admit that living with myself isn’t the easiest thing. But, I beg to differ that I’m any more selfish than those people who don’t understand what I go through, yet expect me to conform to their “perfect” way of living. I am Summer. I am not you. I can only live my life the best way “I” know how and someone else telling me to change my ways so that they can feel more comfortable – because let’s face it, that’s all it ever really is about – makes me feel about as big as an ant’s foot.

So, I ask that all of you read the above Facebook post and think about it. Just sit where you are for a moment and think about how strong you are. Think about all of the work that goes into dealing with your struggles, and be proud that you fight as hard as you know how. Some days, that hard work might be forcing yourself to get up and brush your teeth, but that’s still a great achievement. It’s awesome because depression hurts…. not just emotionally and mentally, but also physically. To manage and do that when it hurts so much deserves credit. No matter what the struggle of your particular mental illness, try to give yourself credit where credit is due.

The Facebook post is one that is meant to make people think, and it did that for me. It made me look at my own situation and realize how just because I’m struggling and just because my personality is one of “weakness” in some eyes, that it doesn’t mean I have to accept that. I’ll never be able to control what others think of me. It’s a hard thing to accept and I’m still working hard on getting there. What people say or think of me affects me greatly and it can hurt like a mother… But, this at least gives me a little more fuel in my arsenal of tools that I need to finally get past that.

I find it interesting. Mental illness is a way of distinguishing how our brains work. Really that’s all it is. It’s a term that is used to state that our brains aren’t working the way that they should. However, the above Facebook post is one to which all people can relate. My cousin who posted this on Facebook does not have a mental illness, yet she relates and grasps what its message says. I said in my last post that having a “mental illness does not equate to an alien race that doesn’t belong on this planet.” I repeat it here again, because we are no different than those without mental illness when it comes to being deserving of both respect and dignity. I can respect peoples’ struggles, and I only ask for the same in return. Please don’t expect me to change to fit your mold, when I don’t expect you to change to fit mine.

So, if you’re smiling when it really hurts inside, then give yourself credit for having that strength. But, when you have to drop that smile and give into the cry, then give yourself credit for having the courage.