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.

 

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.

 

Dreams Gone By – Regret #1

Life is one heck of a roller coaster. I’m not referring to the bipolar roller coaster either, but rather the roller coaster of life. That “topsy-turvy, make you want to hurl at times” track that every human being rides from birth to death. Yeah, I know… after that, I doubt God would ever hire me for Heaven’s marketing team for advertisement on life, but I’m sure He understands from where my thoughts are coming. After all, He made us humans, and He gave us the ability to feel and think how we do, even when that deals with regrets.

Regrets. We all have them, men, women, and even children (although, depending on age, they may not always realize that’s what they’re feeling). So, this post is finally the beginning of a project that I wanted to start about two months ago. The project is one regarding regret, and getting rid of those unwanted pains that have stricken me long enough throughout my life. Is that going to be easy? Heck no! Is that going to be possible? I’ll just leave that at a, “Maybe”. My goal in this project isn’t to forget about my regrets. I don’t think that’s even possible without slamming my head into a brick wall enough times. But, at least I can “try” (hey, my favorite word) to do my best coming to terms with them, and in doing so, moving past them.

So, for my first regret, I’m going to start with one that causes me much disappointment. It’s my regret of a dream gone by. A dream that I did not follow through long enough to realize if it was something that I should really do with my life. It’s my regret of not becoming a registered nurse, or at least trying harder to do so.

I guess I should give a little professional background before continuing. Only a handful of people I know are actually aware of this little fact that I’m about to talk about. And, three of those people read this blog. So, here I go spreading the word to everyone else. In the 11th grade, I began to have a serious desire to go for a career in law enforcement (yeah, don’t worry, this leads to the nursing dream). I come from a family with a few law enforcement individuals, and growing up around that knowledge always made me think that it was a possibility for me to enter the same field. However, as a child I wanted to be everything in the world. I was never set on just one profession. As many kids, I wanted to be every profession with which my mind was inundated. By the time I was sixteen years old, though, I was feeling the law enforcement bug a lot more strongly than ever before. So, when I graduated from high school, I knew that if I really wanted to become a police officer, then I’d better lose weight. At the time I was 100 pounds overweight and I knew that if I didn’t lose that weight, then I’d never have a chance to be a cop. So, I went to college and while there, I started losing weight. I was exercising, eating healthy and feeling great physically. And, by the time I was eligible to apply, I had lost 104 pounds, and was fit and thin. Of course, as previous posts of mine have shown, that weight loss did not stick. But, at that point in my life, I was thin.

I made it! I had reached the goal that I had set out for myself, and followed up that drop in weight with an early departure (I hadn’t finished) from college, while I tried to continue toward the goal of wearing a badge, and basically continue to find myself. See, I knew that I wanted to be a police officer, but there was still doubt inside of whether or not I’d make it. And, as I worked up the courage to try, I worked hard at my job, while I tried to weigh all of my options. It was during this time too that I had been dealing with the early stages of what I now know to be my bipolar. However, at the time, there was a part of me that thought, “Hey, if I become a cop, then I’ll be happy, ‘cause it’s what I want to do with my life.” I was looking for happiness in something that I now know would not have given it to me, at least not to the degree that I wanted.

Well, the time came that I felt I was ready, and I sent in that application. A month later, I received my letter of approval for taking the written and physical exams an hour away, over in the next county (where my city held its exams). So, I bought the book to help me prepare for the written exam and I continued to work out like crazy to prepare for the physical fitness test. So, how did it all turn out? Well, considering what you all know about me from my blog, I’m sure you can figure out that answer.

I passed the 3-hour written exam with flying colors, but the physical fitness test… well, let’s just say some pretty dazed-induced colors passed by my whirling head, before they filled up the huge lumps on both my head and knee from a failed jump over the wall. Yep, I missed. I thought I was ready, but alas, my upper body strength was not as built up as my lower body, so I was able to get up on the wall, but just not over it. What did I look like, you may ask? Picture someone with both arms stretched out and hanging onto the top of the wall for dear life, while her feet are firmly planted on the side of the wall. Now, imagine in your head that person saying, “Oh crap! How do I get out of this position?” Imagine all of that and you got me, trying climb that stupid six foot wall. Oh yeah! I forgot to mention that, didn’t I? I couldn’t climb over a SIX FOOT WALL! If there ever were a zombie apocalypse, I’d be the straggler, hanging onto the wall as bait while my fellow survivors jumped over.

Thankfully, the guys I was taking the test with (all but myself and one other girl were guys) were extremely supportive. The first time, when I ran up to the wall, my foot slipped off the side of the wall, forcing both that leg’s knee and my head into it (leading to the colorful lumps). It was then, though, that the guys were yelling, “Come on girl! Shake it off! Shake it off! You can do it!” So, that snapped me out of the stunned pain I was in, and I turned around for my second (and last allowed) try. It was that final try where I just hung there on the wall. I really think I should have gotten some points for some kind of Spiderman skills and stamina. Unfortunately, however, this is real life and in real life, you often don’t get points for effort. So, I walked away from that experience a failure (at least in my eyes). I was immediately disqualified, as part of the rules stated that if you miss any of the individual physical tests, then you’re immediately gone, until another year when you may try again.

As I walked away with both swelling in my knee and head starting to form, I was strong and thanked the police officers and trainers for their time and opportunity. I then walked off alone and cried once I was out of sight. After working so hard to lose weight and get into shape and study for the written exam, I failed because I literally hit a wall. Believe me, the cruel humor of that is not lost on me.

I was crushed, and I felt even more lost than I was prior to making the decision of going for the academy exams. Now, with the bipolar, I know that I most likely wouldn’t have made it past the psychological exam anyway. But, back then, I didn’t know anything about what was going on in my head and failing that test hurt… badly. So, I headed back to work the next day without the opportunity to tell my boss and co-workers that I had succeeded. Instead, I headed in there as if the previous day was just as ordinary as the last. A couple of months later, I received a call from the Lieutenant for my city’s Police Department, offering me a rare second chance to take the physical exam again. He said my written exam scores were high and that he felt I had it in me to pass the physical exam, if I just built up my upper body strength a bit more. He remembered my fantastic ability to plant my head so firmly into a wooden wall, and said that he could see that I was strong, just not strong enough at that point. I flipped out (once I was off the phone with him), and was so happy that I was being given this wonderful opportunity. I was excited. However, that excitement was short-lived. A couple of months later, as I was still prepping my body for the test, one of my police officer family members was seriously injured in an accident while on patrol one night. It was an extremely serious set of injuries, and it was a frightening time in our family’s past.

After a long recovery, he made it through, and is now ok. Thank God! That experience, however, made me start to re-evaluate my goals in life. At that time, I obviously knew that dangers come with being a police officer, but there was something about a car accident while on patrol that never occurred to me before. I had thought getting shot or stabbed would be a rare encounter if ever while being a police officer. But, a car accident… that was something so much closer to home. It was something that would be much more likely considering my role as an officer. I did a whole lot of soul searching after all of this, and decided that the best thing would be to leave that dream behind. I no longer wanted it. I was hit in the face by a fact about that career that I had never considered before. I realized right then and there, that it was a dream that I may have once ached for, but no longer did. It was something in my past.

Therefore, to this day, I do not regret it. I followed through with that dream as far as I could, before realizing it wasn’t for me. I realized that it wasn’t the place in the professional world where I was meant to be. And, I’m now content with that. I do not regret being just an ordinary citizen without a badge. I don’t regret it because I followed through with it. Unfortunately, though, I cannot say the same thing for nursing.

Nursing was something that was on my mind off and on throughout these same years. It was always in the back of my mind, and then would often move to the forefront before moving backward again. Throughout the beginning of my college career, I took prerequisites for the program, and was working toward that goal, while also working on getting my body to a point of law enforcement eligibility. And, after deciding that being a cop was no longer for me, I quit my job months later, and went back to school full-time for nursing. I took almost all of my prerequisites, before the doubt began to set in. Once I reached the point of the anatomy and physiology courses, I started doubting my ability to be a nurse. I used the excuse that I didn’t think I could handle the blood and guts, but that wasn’t true. I was merely using that as an excuse for those I knew, so that they wouldn’t see me as the lame loser that I knew I was. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. Why was I suddenly losing the motivation? Why was I feeling so low, again? It was that depression creeping up on me again, and I could feel it. So, I lied and said I couldn’t handle the blood and guts. What was the real reason for my not following through with my dream, aside from the creeping depression? Fear. I was afraid. I was so scared of failing as both a nursing student, and even worse… as a nurse. I also worried that in doing so, that I’d hit a whole knew realm of defeat in my already confused life. So, I stopped. Just like that, I stopped going to classes one day, and that was it. I was stuck in limbo for the next months. During this time, I spiraled into a deeper depression, due to feeling so lost and out of place in life. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I was without a job, without school, and even worse… without a plan. I had no goal left for my life. All that I could focus on was what I was going to do with this pitiful life.

But, then, the conversation happened. One day, I was at one of my aunt and uncle’s houses. My uncle (a law enforcement officer) was the only one home and we were just hanging out and having a great conversation about all sorts of subjects and issues. Eventually, the conversation worked its way into my future plans. I told him I didn’t know what to do at that point. I was at a loss. He had recently seen a video I had created, though, and he told me that he felt I should go back to school for arts and design. He told me I had a talent that needed to be explored and developed, and it was important for me to do so. I have great respect for this man, and so hearing those words from him did something to me. I guess you could say that they lit a fire under me and made me really start wondering if he was right. So, over the next couple of months I kept thinking about what he said and how he said it. So, as I fought against my depression, I also juggled the words and advice that my uncle had given to me… words that meant much more than I think he realized that day. See, that’s the important part. What he said was so nice to hear. However, it wasn’t just what he said, but rather how he said it that made the difference. He wasn’t lying to me. He wasn’t patronizing me. He wasn’t just giving me some pep talk filled with bulls**t. He was speaking from his heart, and I could see that. He’s one of those reputable people in my life whom I respect and admire. It was the tone he used that day… the words he used, and the fact that he looked directly at me, staring me down with the encouragement he was setting forth. He really meant what he said.

So, by the next semester, I was back in school and on my way to my bachelor’s degree in Media Arts and Design, which I earned in 2007. I made it a point at my graduation party to pull my uncle aside and give him a private, yet strongly appreciative thanks for what he did. He gave me the encouragement that I needed, during a time when the still-unknown bipolar was starting to push me further into emotional unsteadiness, leading me into deeper doubt about my own capabilities.

Am I happy that I graduated with my bachelor’s in that field? Yes! I am extremely happy and grateful for all who helped, supported, taught, and endured me throughout those years of both academic exhaustion, and emotional turbulence. I’m not sure how I managed to make it through school and actually graduate, but I did. Through all of the turmoil that bipolar was starting to throw at me, I still managed to bypass it for that time being and pull forward. And, I’m satisfied with that achievement in my life. I’m not sad about it. I’m not regretful about it. I accomplished something that had always been a goal of mine… to receive my college degree. So, if I am happy with reaching that educational goal, why on earth would I be regretful about not attending nursing school?

Well, the disappointment in my not following through with nursing school didn’t begin to show its face until after I was diagnosed with bipolar in 2009. It was then that I began to feel that I may have missed my calling. I feel that with everything I have dealt with – and continue to deal with – in my life, that I could have been a better nurse than I had ever realized. I was so afraid of failing at such an important role in the medical field, that I let that keep me from moving closer to that goal. I never stopped to think what qualities I had that could have been useful in that very field. Then, again, maybe I just couldn’t see those qualities back then. After all, I hadn’t been diagnosed as having a mental illness yet.

Let me explain what I mean by that. Bipolar is a curse, but, strangely, it can also be an odd blessing. I’m not sure how many sufferers from the illness would concur with me on that, but here’s my reasoning. I’m in touch with emotions on a different level than people who are not bipolar. I’m not saying that people without the illness aren’t in touch with their emotions. I’m absolutely not saying that. Rather, what I’m saying is that through my highs and lows, I have not only experienced a range of emotions, but I’ve also had to face them head on… often on my own, but also through therapy. I’ve been from points of suicidal ideation, to points of feeling like sleep was a mere hindrance to a better and more productive life of creativity and fantasy. Due to this extreme range of emotional experience, I often wonder if maybe I could have been a good nurse. Of course, I would have had to be stable to do so, but in that stabilized state, what if I could have been there for patients in a way that not all people can understand? What if I could have been that person who understands them in a way that most people don’t? To be a good nurse, you definitely don’t need to be bipolar, but you do need to be in touch with what others are feeling. I have such deep respect for nurses, and know a few in my family whom I admire.

I don’t know if I would have made a good nurse. I don’t even know if I would have been able to handle the stress of it. I would hope that I could have been the kind of person that could calm the fears of a patient and comfort them in times of pain and trauma. I would hope that I could have been there with the family of a loved one for whom they are worried and distraught. I would hope that I could have been a hand to place on their shoulder, or the arms to place around them in a hug of support. But, that is something I will just have to dream about. This is one regret that I have which I am currently trying to just move beyond. I went to school, got my bachelor’s, and spent a lot of money doing so. Going to school for nursing now… well, that’s something that for a time I thought could still happen, but that dream has been fading.

I guess I just need to continue to wait for what God really has in store for me. I’m trying to figure it out. I want to know what He wants for me. I want to know what I’m supposed to do with all of this craziness that is my life. I want to know why I can’t live my life without putting my family and friends through my crap. I often ask myself the question, “Of all the people I could have been in this life, why did I have to be me?” However, then I ask another question. Who would I want to be if I wasn’t me?

As Leona Lewis says in one of my favorite songs (and puts it best), “I just want to be happy.” But, I don’t know what would truly make me happy anymore. All I know is that I want it. I want to be happy… really, truly, happy, for more than just a day or two before something sets me off and I become an unpleasant annoyance for those around me.

Yeah, I guess that’s it. I just want to be happy.

 

 

Friendship

So, what do you know? It turns out that I do in fact still remember how to hit the “publish” button. It’s been a month since my last post. I guess you can say I’ve had blogging writer’s block. I’ve been dealing with an unpredictable mood lately. I’ve been able to write, just not blog. But, today, I finally had the urge to write a post. Actually, the urge just cropped up on me about an hour ago. I hope this will be the beginning of my return to the blogosphere, but I’m not putting the cart before the horse just yet (I’ve always wanted to find a reason to use that phrase). Either way, though, I’m not planning on leaving this awesome universe of fellow bloggers anytime soon.

Now that I got that bit out, I guess I’ll just jump on into the heart of my post. Today’s urge to write can go back to this morning. I had therapy this morning, and it left me feeling quite low. Therapy is often a pleasant experience and I feel replenished sort of speak when I leave my psychologist’s office. However, today was a difficult session and quite emotional. It had to do with some issues I’ve been feeling inside lately, that have left me unhappy and feeling lonely. I know I’m not technically alone, but emotionally, I’ve felt it. I had a wonderful night this last Friday. For the first time in four years, I hung out with a couple of family members and watched a movie here at home and we ate take-out and drank Starbucks (something I hadn’t drank since 2008). It was a fun night and I was proud of myself for finally not saying, “No” to their request to hangout. It was like it was before my life falling into pieces, which I’m now trying to put back together. These family members understand how things are for me, though, and I appreciate them never giving up on me, like some of my friends have done. Once I was no longer fun to be around, they suddenly disappeared. I don’t blame them, but it still hurts.

So, the weekend started nicely. However, my mood started dropping slowly by Sunday night, and I couldn’t shake it. Part of it was due to anxiety, I know. But, something else was getting me and by the time I was trying to go to sleep, I was in tears. A sense of loneliness was once again taking over me inside. I tried praying through it, and I guess it helped since I fell asleep right afterwards. But, when I woke up it was still there, and it continued on into my therapist’s office.

After difficult sessions, I usually come home and not say anything. Even saying hi to my mom is difficult ‘cause it can feel exhausting to open my mouth and force the words to come out. So, when I came home I went into our family room for some alone time. I walked into the kitchen a short time later for some water, when she asked me how things went. I just answered, “Fine”, before walking back out of the room. However, I had to go back in there again about ten minutes later and she asked again, “Are you sure things went ok today?” This time I got upset and snapped at her, “I said it was fine!” I left the room once again, until I felt sick to my stomach. I wanted comfort and my anger wasn’t bringing me comfort. So, I walked back in the kitchen and when I saw my mom standing there, I went up to her and just hugged her. She asked me if I was ok, and I just started crying. I couldn’t say anything, and just cried. She then said, “It’s not ok, is it?” I didn’t want to talk with her about therapy, so I just kept it simple and she understood. She knew I wasn’t really mad at her, I just took it out on her, but thankfully that had been rectified now. And, it is then where the friendship side of this post comes into play.

I decided I’d log into a game that I play and just mess around in a world of fantasy, rather than my frustrating real world. When I logged in, I saw a good friend of mine was online too, which brought an immediate smile to my face. I always look forward to seeing and chatting with this person online and it helped to see her. She’s a beautiful person and I feel blessed that God has placed her in my life. We didn’t stay online long, but later on in the evening, came back and played some more. After we logged off tonight, I realized that spending time with her made me feel better. The feelings are still there, but they seem a little better now after hanging out and talking with her.

It was then, that I began thinking about friendship and how important it is in our lives. I started reflecting on past friendships of mine and how some have come and gone, while others have never left since the day they began. I’m not sure how that comes to be with some friendships lasting forever, while some do not, but I know my friendship with the aforementioned person will be a lasting one. I hope she feels the same way. Considering the world of constant connectivity through the Internet, such a concept isn’t impossible anymore.

However, I got to thinking about three friendships in particular that came, thrived and ended due to loss of such contact. The Internet can have its cons, but I think the connection of friendship is a major pro. The three friendships I’m thinking about are people who impacted my life in a positive way growing up, but since then have faded.

My Fantasy Twin

Third through sixth grade was a special time due to one particular friend. She was someone who loved fantasy and make-believe just as much as me. We’d play with one another often during recess and lunchtime breaks. Our imaginations guided us through a world of pretend that only we could see. We each formed the world around us, and in a Bridge to Terabithia sort of way, we fed off one another’s imaginations and could see what the other was seeing. It was fabulous, and she was the only friend whom I have ever had that was able to go into this world with me. But, then, came the end of sixth grade.

Her father got a new job in another state, and come seventh grade, she’d be gone. In a world of no Facebook, MySpace, or other social media (not even the Internet was in people’s homes yet), her departure meant the end of our friendship and Terabithia universe.

Although that friendship ended long ago (which feels like ages now), I still remember her. I will not forget her and I still have a story that she and I wrote together. The last day of school of sixth grade she handed me a typed up story. It was the story of our universe. It was what we always imagined together and what we had played for so many years. I still remember her saying that she had to write it out before she left, because it was a special memory that we had to complete before she moved away. I’m tearing up as I write this ‘cause it’s such a special thing when a friendship hits a deep and private side of your soul like that. She will always have a special place in my heart.

An Understanding Camaraderie

In the second grade, I met a girl who would become my “best” friend by eighth grade. She and I had a wonderful friendship, filled with laughs and plenty of memories. As a kid who was bullied in school a lot during these years, she was also a protector. Whenever someone tried to mess with me, and she was around, they’d back off. She spoke her mind and due to that, she became our class and school president during eighth grade. She was the most popular girl in school due to her brains and personality, and unlike most of the other kids, she didn’t treat me like I was a piece of cow dung on her shoe.

In addition to all of that, she also made me feel extremely understood – at least to a degree. I suffered from severe separation anxiety as a kid, and so sleepovers never happened. I couldn’t even go places with her and her family. I was always “sick” on the days when such events arrived, because I couldn’t get myself to go. All I could ever do is spend time with her at her house for a few hours, before I’d start becoming emotional and sick to my stomach. I could never eat at her house. I would sit there while she and her family and any other friends ate. Her mom always asked me why I wasn’t eating, and I would just say that I wasn’t hungry. That was the truth. It’s hard to be hungry when you feel like expelling your stomach’s contents onto the table before you. So, I would just sit quietly and sip on something to drink.

Through all of this behavior, though, she never gave up on me as a friend. She could have just thought I was too weird for her or that I wasn’t a good friend. But, she didn’t. Instead, she became my best friend, and an unlikely pair of comrades went through elementary school together.

Unfortunately, the world of high school would come between us. She went to one private school, while I went to another, and we slowly drifted a part. I did get to see her almost four years later, though. I was in line for the SATs (exams given in the U.S. for college entrance) with a friend of mine from high school. We were talking when a girl in front of us suddenly and loudly asked, “Summer?” I turned and after just a second of recognition, I yelled back in excitement. It was her… my friend for so many years was standing in front of me, and there we were embracing before one of the biggest exams that a young person may take in their life. We were so happy to see one another, but sadly we got split up almost immediately as they were dividing all of us test takers into classrooms. It was a bittersweet moment, but one that was quite awesome at the same time. Albeit for a short time, I got to see how she was doing at that point in her life, and vice versa. We were able to receive a life update on a good friend, which many people don’t get. She was well and thriving, and so was I… at least at that point in my life.

I still miss her, though. I will always smile when I think of her, and just as my fantasy twin, I will never forget her, as she holds a special place in my heart. She was a friend when I often needed one most. And, I always tried to be the best friend I could for her. We clicked in a way that doesn’t always happen in life, and I’m thankful for that relationship in my past.

A Friend Once There

The third friend is someone who brings with her a lot of good memories, but unfortunately I’m left with hurt ones too.

This friend and I met the second week of high school. I didn’t know a single person at this all-girls college prep Catholic school, and was suddenly thrown into a world of nuns and no boys. At first, it felt like it would be way too odd, and lonely beyond bearability. But, once I met this friend, things changed. She was the reason I didn’t wind up getting home schooled. I wanted out of the school after the first few days due to not knowing anyone and being so alone. I went from a school of bullies, to a school where I felt as if I didn’t even exist. My mom and dad had considered home schooling, until one day I came home and proclaimed with joy that I had made a friend. And, after only a month of being at that school, I realized that my high school experience was going to be much better than the previous eight years. I wasn’t being bullied. I was treated with respect and left alone by the girls that didn’t have anything in common with me. None of them jumped up in the bathroom stall next to me to invade my privacy, like when I was in fifth grade. No one laughed at me, if I fell down skinning my arms and knees. No one pulled out the chair behind me while I was sitting down, just so they could get a laugh from everyone in class. No one told me I looked like a boy and should stop lying by saying I was a girl. No one attacked me for how I looked or my strange quirks. All of that was gone. And, if not for this friend, I would not have stood at that school long enough to realize that. I would have lost out on that experience. I realize I was blessed that my bullied days were behind me when I entered high school. Too many kids are not so fortunate, and I hate that. Hate’s a strong word, yes, but when it comes to bullying, hating it is the only thing that seems appropriate. It’s not right and it’s something that needs to be put to an end. Bullying needs to stop!

My friend helped to keep me at that school and realize that things were going to be better for me. She and I became inseparable, and everyone knew that wherever I was, she wasn’t far behind, and vice versa. It was a wonderful friendship and we had a blast hanging out all of the time. She came from a strict family, and just like me wasn’t allowed to stay out past ten at night, even if our friend hadn’t cut her birthday cake yet for her 16th celebration. We had an understanding for one another and connected through both that understanding and just enjoyable times we had with one another.

However, just as high school divided me from my friend from elementary school, college became the division of this friend. It didn’t happen right away, though. At first, we kept in contact a lot while she was away at school. After moving in with her roommates into a townhouse near campus, though, our friendship began to fade. I became closer with a good mutual friend of ours from high school, and she with her roommates. As we grew up further into the world of adulthood, our mutual friend and I became closer as we had more in common. My old high school best friend had the taste of freedom in college. She wanted to only party, drink and go to nightclubs. She enjoyed that entertainment, while our mutual friend and I enjoyed chilling at the campus cafe, chatting at Starbucks, going to the movies, or just cruising up and down the coast and going to the beach. That bored my old friend and she made it known, by saying she was going to go to sleep in the backseat and we can wake her when we had decided on something to do.

Our company was no longer fun for her, and she made that perfectly and coldly clear. Sadly, there wasn’t anything we could do about that. I’m not a nightclub, drinker, or party person. I can’t stand that atmosphere, and prefer a quiet and laid back environment. It was only a matter of time until our friendship divided.

Eventually, she cut me out of her life by unexpectedly changing her number and not giving me the new one, and never replying to my emails about what was up. We never had an argument. We never said a goodbye. The last time we spoke all was fine I thought. She said she’d give me her new number, but never did. After my diagnosis, I started worrying that it was the bipolar. I hadn’t been diagnosed when she cut me off, but my moods had been affecting plenty in my life back then, and I just worried that she finally had enough of me. Maybe that was the reason, or maybe not, but I guess it doesn’t really matter anymore. For a while I worried that something had happened to her, but then my good friend (our mutual friend) saw her with a group of girlfriends one day. She was happy and laughing while going to lunch with them. She had moved on with her life and had cut me out without any reason or notification.

I was hurt and confused as to why she lied to me and told me she’d give me her number, only to just cut me out. However, through all of that, I was also happy to know that she was ok. She wasn’t hurt or worse, as I had begun to worry. She had only moved on. It hurt for a long time, but now I realize that was on her, and not me. I can’t make anyone like me, nor would I try. I tried as a kid, but not anymore. I’m a grown adult who now realizes that sometimes people just aren’t going to like me, and that’s fine. I’m not here to make people like me. I’m here to be who I am. I’m here to enjoy and love my friends whom I do have, and appreciate their presence in my life every day.

I will always have the good memories of my high school “best” friend, and to this day, I have no ill feelings toward her. I hope she is living a great life, and if she were to suddenly pop into my life again someday, I would have a hug waiting for her. I have no reason to be hateful toward her. All she did was grow up and so did I. It was just meant to be, I guess.

It’s All Meant To Be

In the past, I’ve talked about how I am a firm believer that all things happen for a reason. I may not always know what that reason is, but I have to believe that it’s there. My above three friends from childhood may no longer be in my life, but they will always be in my heart, and maybe that was the purpose. They brought something into my life, and I into theirs, when we were kids. I now have a small circle of friends. I no longer have a “best” friend as I value and love all of my friends, and don’t like to place such a label onto any of them. They all are each the “best” in their own ways and they each mean something special to me.

Only a few of them have now learned of the bipolar, but they have not abandoned me. They have given me their support and love, and one in particular has been amazing in her support of me since my diagnosis. She knows who she is. I love you so much “Lillie”.

I’m Now Changed For Good

One of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard on friendship is from my favorite Broadway musical Wicked. It never fails to make me cry. I think it sums up my relationships with the three friends who made a huge impact on my life as a kid, which has in turn impacted who I am today. This song is for them.

 

 

 

The Place I’ve Reached

****Trigger Warning: This post may contain triggers for those who read. Please proceed with caution.

My therapist has been on vacation for a few days now (she left on Wednesday), and will continue to be until the middle of September. It’s starting to really hit me now that I’m alone until then. I know technically I’m not alone, but I feel alone. Whenever my therapist goes on vacation, I know that the one person with whom I can talk without reservation is gone.

So, I’m just counting down the days until I get to see her again. It didn’t hit me when I saw her last week. We had been preparing for her departure for the last few weeks, and she’s been helping me to get ready for not having that connection. But, it wasn’t until last night when it started to truly hit me. Usually, every Friday I think about how it’s only a short time before I get to see her again the following week. I look forward to it, especially when things aren’t going well. However, last night, when the thought began to enter my mind, I was reminded that I would not be seeing her. I would not be seeing her for another two weeks.

I know to the average person that probably sounds like not such a big deal. I mean two weeks… that’s not long. That’s true. It’s not a long time when what you’re waiting for is just an average event or experience to come your way. But, two weeks is a long time being without the one person whom you feel most comfortable telling your most inner darkest feelings, without being afraid of pushing that listener away.

Blogging often brings about that fear for me. I worry that I may push those I know away with what I write. Everyone has his or her own problems. I fully understand that, and I worry that sometimes people I know may get sick of reading what I have to say. I’ve only told a handful of loved ones about my blog, and I love and trust each and every one of them. But, that doesn’t take away that fear that maybe they will one day just say, “I’ve had enough of this whiner… this annoyance.”

Maybe, I’m just in more of a self-pity place right now. I’ve been trying to keep myself up for the last month. I’ve been trying to be active in Facebook as it’s the only connection that I have with the outside world, of course in addition to this awesome blogosphere. As frustrating as Facebook can be at times, it’s also the one place where I can feel that I’m connected with loved ones. But, as I’ve mentioned before, Facebook can bring about some of the most anxiety-inducing and disheartening situations. I realize that I’m oversensitive, and I’ve discussed this in previous posts. I’m trying hard to work through that in the Facebook world, though. I know I will not change how I am, but my hope is to just learn how to better adapt in such environments. But, boy is it hard.

I noticed the other day, after my last post, that I only made three posts in the entire month of August. I wasn’t feeling much in the writing mood last month, but didn’t realize just how much of a stump I was in. I apologize for not being as present in my blog as of late. I have been trying to keep up with my reading of blogs too, but it’s been hard. I feel so far behind. I don’t even know why this is happening. In the beginning of the summer, I was in a low and was working hard to come out of it. But, as August approached, I seemed to have gone back down again. Yet, I’m not depressed right now. The strange thing is that I’m finding myself feeling fatigued and emotional at times, but then I come right back up and feel ok again. Again, it’s not depression that I’m feeling, though. It’s something else. I can’t help but think it has to do with my therapist. August has never been my favorite month, as I discussed in my post I Never Liked August. However, I think my therapist going on vacation is what has made me go down. It’s been on my mind all month, as I’ve dreaded this time away from her.

I know I have anxiety due to it, and my Tourette’s has flared up too. It always flares up during times of immense stress and anxiety. In the past, it flares up each time she has gone away for long periods of times. Now, as and adult, my Tourette’s is mild and not as bad as it was when I was a kid, but it’s still there. I hope it eases soon, because the facial tics are hard to deal with. The facials are worse than the vocal tics, as they cause me to be unable to breathe sometimes, until I can get the tic finished. The sensations are in my nose and throat, so those aren’t the best places.

So, as the summer comes to a close, and the fall is just around the corner, I am trying to bring myself to a place of stability that makes me feel good. I’m worried, as Christmas gets closer, as I have tended to fall into a seasonal depression the last five years now. But, I’m hoping this year will be different.

I have come a long way since my diagnosis in 2009. I have been thinking about that a lot lately. Sometimes, I wonder if maybe I don’t need my meds anymore. Maybe I just think I do, and if I stop them, then I will be able to handle everything. I will wonder if maybe the doctors have it all wrong. I’ve read that it’s common to feel that way… often questioning your diagnosis. But, I still can’t help but wonder if maybe I could stop all of the meds and I’ll be fine. However, then I remember those days.

I remember the days when I’d be in a state of utter despair and feeling as if I didn’t have anything for which to live anymore. I remember those days of standing in the kitchen and screaming at my mom in pain. I was hurting inside, and couldn’t put it into words. All that I could say to her was that it hurt and that something was wrong in my head. I screamed at her, “There’s something wrong!” I’d proceed to bang my head on the wall and punch it with my fists. It was as if I had hoped that whatever it was would come out. The pain felt good too, ‘cause I knew that I was causing it. I had a source for it, whereas the other pain didn’t have a source. It was this mysterious torturer that was attacking my soul.

I remember the day I walked around the house looking for a place that would support my weight to hang myself. I just wanted it all to be over, and my prayers to God to take me weren’t doing anything. I couldn’t bring myself to do it, though. I didn’t want to do that to my parents. I knew they’d be the ones to find me. I couldn’t put them through that. In addition, my faith teaches me that it’s a sin to commit suicide. I’ve done a lot of research about that, actually. I’ve wanted to know if it really is a sin. I still have yet to find a definitive answer. I’ve found opinions, but nothing more. So, I would just go back to praying and hoping that God would finally take me home.

To be clear, I’m not in that place right now. I haven’t been that low in a long time. But, I remember it clearly, when I allow myself to reflect back to that time. In doing so, I also allow myself to realize that I truly have come a long way. To not be in that place anymore feels wonderful. I’ve reached pretty low places in regard to depression episodes since, but never that low. The meds are helping, and I am grateful for that.

It is, then, that I remember… when I know that I must not stop my meds. I must not stop doing what I’m doing; otherwise I will slip back down into that place, and may not come out of it next time. Then, there is the opposite end of the spectrum. I’m often tempted to stop my meds to feel that hypomanic euphoria. I want to feel that. It’s such a great emotional high, and I get so much done during that time. Sleep becomes completely unnecessary and I love that ‘cause I don’t like to force myself to sleep every night. But, I know it’s not a good place to be either. It may not always be as bad as the depression in terms of mood (although, it can be in its own way), but it is in terms of safety and health. I try hard to remind myself that I need these meds to remain balanced. I hope that I never lose that focus.

I always say that my denial is gone. I’m starting to think, though, that maybe our denial never goes away. Maybe, it’s just always about trying to fight that temptation to ignore what our treatment has done for us. Some people are better at that battle than others, but I think I’m someone who still needs to work on my fighting skills. The temptation comes at me way too often, and it comes on strong. It’s a fight between the parts of my brain saying, “Stay on those meds… don’t forget where you used to be.” And, “Screw it all! You don’t need any of that.”

I look at this point that I’ve reached in my life, and I think I need to be proud of myself. It’s so easy for me to say that I haven’t accomplished anything these past years. My life isn’t where I want it to be – or where it should be, for that matter – and it’s so easy for me to put myself down, and say that I’m a loser. In the Facebook world of comparing oneself to others, those thoughts come a lot more easily. But, I think I need to realize where I’ve come. I may not have accomplished the average achievements that society deems ‘normal’. But, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t accomplished other goals. I have come a long way since 2009, and well before that, and I need to appreciate that. So much easier said than done, but I can at least try.

I know that I have many more struggles ahead of me with this illness, and that I will always have to be on guard not to fall back into that hellish abyss from years ago. But, I also know that I also have some struggles in my past through which I have made it. I just need to keep reminding myself of one fact. Through hard work, the place I’m in now is better than where I used to be.

I think that’s one heck of an accomplishment.

The following is one of my favorite songs. I think it should be the unofficial song of those of us who suffer from mental illness. We’re not freaks. We’re not crazy. We have something unique to offer the world. Everyone, we are strong, and we have wonderful voices.