Mystical Forest

 

*** This post may contain triggers for others. Please continue with caution. ***

Can you see it? It’s over there, beyond the lake where the sky’s reflection glistens in the sun. It’s so magnificent, don’t you think? Look at those trees. They seem to reach endless heights, as if there is no end in sight of their existence. So many for as far as our eyes can see. I want to see more, do you? Let’s walk over to the dock and get on the rowboat.

Ah, that sound. Swishing of water back and forth, as each stroke of the oars caresses the calmness of the water. I wonder what the fish down below think. “New arrivals, everyone! We’ve got new arrivals to the mystical forest ahead.” That’s it! That’s what they’re saying. They’re happy and welcoming. They are glad to see us magically floating above their heads toward the beauty that lies before us.

Wow! Look at glow! It’s magnificent. Do you see how it shines through the leaves of the trees and bounces off of the ground?

Ohhh!!! Look at that! Did you see it? It was a silhouette of birds swimming through the flowing glow. I bet they are a family. What do you think? A family of birds heading to a place of enjoyment… that’s what I think. It was a momma and papa taking their kids to their favorite eating spot, and a night out at the local forest animal theater. Yeah, that’s what I think.

We’re almost there… you excited? I know I am. I can feel it. I feel the peace coming over me. The stresses from behind us are going away. Oh, what a wonderful feeling. The heaviness in my head is lifting too. It’s going away. That monster is going away. I can’t wait to get there. I wish my arms could move these oars faster.

Listen. Is… is that what I think it is? You hear it too, right? It’s… yes. It’s singing. Wow. It is indeed singing, but unlike any I have ever heard before in my life. How is that possible? The words are flowing through me. I feel them circulating in and out of every pore of my body. It’s as if they are embracing my heart with each lyrical gust.

I’m being hugged. Yes! That is it. I’m being hugged. Who is hugging me, though? I don’t see anyone. Could it really be? Oh my gosh… it is! It’s Him! I’m here. He’s the one hugging me. I’ve made it. This is the place. This is the place for which every bone in my body has ached for so long.

Are you ready? This is it! We’re going to be in that mystical forest of love and hope. It’s that place of natural beauty that only His love can sustain. Watch your step out of the boat. Let’s go.

Wait.

What?

What’s going on?

No.

No, it… it can’t be. I can’t get past the edge of the water. Can you?

NOOOOOOOOO!!!! I want to get in! Please! Take me in! I want to get in!!! I need to get in!!! Please!!!!

It’s not fair. I wanted to get in so badly. I’m ready now. But, He isn’t ready for me. Why? Why not? What on earth does He have for me here that I must stay? I have no choice but to stay and wait? THAT’S NOT FAIR!!!

Maybe, I should sit here and just wait until He realizes He’s making a mistake. Maybe, I can sit here where the air is a blissful breeze and the water’s natural barrier keeps me safe. I don’t want to go back. I can’t get back on that boat and leave behind this place. I can’t go back there, to a world that doesn’t understand. I can’t exist in that world. That world is not for me. Maybe, if I beckon Him.

Please! Please let me in! I don’t belong back there. That world is horrible. It’s hurtful. It’s filled with a pain that exists inside my head and will never leave me. Your forest, it’s my only hope! It’s my only refuge to get away from this disgusting monster that exists inside of my head. Please! Take me now! Don’t make me go back!

I guess the lack of a response is enough to tell me He doesn’t want me. He’s going to make me go back.

Come on. Let’s get back on the boat.

I don’t want to look behind me. Is it fading? It is, isn’t it? The beauty. The singing. It’s all going away. All I can see is the ugliness that lies before me as I head back to that place. That place back across the lake where only pain exists. Where the monster is waiting to jump back into my head where it wins each and every day. That place where loneliness drowns me. It’s not fair. It’s not right. He knew I was suffering, but didn’t let me in. That’s cruel.

I see the dock. No. Maybe we should turn around. Do you think we should turn around? Should we try again? Maybe, He will change His mind and let me in.

Don’t do that! Don’t shake your head at me. You have to tell me He will let me back in. Why are you killing my hope?

No, you’re not. You’re not being truthful. You’re lying! You just want me to stay on the side of the lake where it’s ugly, hopeless and disastrous. It’s not anything, but a sea of trouble and burden that I bring to those around me. Why do you want me to suffer? Why do you want THEM to suffer? Why do you think I should continue to cover them with the torrential rain of my brain’s toxic waste? You’re taking His side, when you should be taking mine.

Don’t touch me. Don’t you dare put your hand on my shoulder.

Stop talking! I don’t want to hear it. What you say means nothing… nothing to me! I’m getting off of this boat now and walking away from you. Do not follow me.

You can keep shouting at me to come back, but…

Ok, what!?!? What do you have to say to me???

Yes.

Yes.

No.

Alright, so now that I’ve answered your questions… now what? Yes, I love my family and friends. Yes, I miss them. No, I don’t want to hurt them. So, what is your grand advice for me?

But, I don’t want to wait. I want to go now. I want Him to let me into that place now… today! I want Him to welcome me.

Noooo. I don’t care if it will come someday. I want it to come now.

Because.

Just, because.

Because I’m tired!!! I can’t exist among these people. I don’t do well. I don’t fit in. I cause only problems. Our brains are what govern everything we do, and mine’s has a mission to destroy everything and everyone around me. Its goal is to push those around me over the edge. I can’t do anything right. I can’t live in this world… in this life of people. All I do is hurt them.

No.

No.

Fine.

I’ll keep trying. But, don’t blame me when the world around me falls apart and I’m the one to blame for its destruction.

Yes, it will. It will be destroyed and I will be the one to do it.

You can say that all you want, but you’re wrong. I’m telling you I will destroy it.

Alright. Let’s just go home now, but… just one more look.

Those trees. Their endless heights.

He may be making me come back to this awful place, but I’m not staying for long.

Someday… I promise you… someday… I will climb those trees. I will get up to their unseen peaks and look back over the lake and smile. I will shout at the top of my lungs with a joy that echoes throughout that entire forest. I will be filled with magnificent bliss, because this side of the lake is over for me. I no longer have to return here. Instead, I will be in His land of peace and harmony.

I cannot reach that place… not yet. But, I promise you… that Heaven will be my home someday. And, I’ll no longer be filled with pain, because my brain will be dead and only my soul will exist. It will all finally be over… for me and everyone around me.

I look forward to the day that the Lord calls me home to my mystical forest.

 

 

My Life According to Seuss

 

*** This post may contain triggers for others. Please continue with caution. ***

This is my life, my life it is.
It’s not any good in my mind that exists.
I’m not very good. No, I’m not. I’m bad.
I hurt those I love and I know they get mad.

I’m hated at times, of that I am sure.
I’m sure they must want me to leave them for good.
Who would want me? Why would they dare?
Why do they bother to dare to care?

These are the thoughts that fly through my head.
In my head they will stay, until the day I am dead.
They don’t leave me be, leave me be they won’t do.
So, I try to exist with them as bipolar fuel.

But, why? Why must it be the way that it is?
Why must I crap out my life in small bits?
Why must I pathetically try to exist?
Why must I stay when it’s better to ditch?

I’m evil, that’s it! I’m evil I say.
But, evil I’m not. I’m not, I pray.
So, which one is it? The flip, or the flop?
Is it evil, or good, or a mix of the crop?

These are the thoughts that fly through my head.
In my head they will stay, until the day I am dead.
They don’t leave me be, leave me be they won’t do.
So, I try to exist with them as bipolar fuel.

The thoughts make me hurt. They hurt like a bitch.
So, a bitch I become, and treat others like shit.
Why do I do that? Why does it hurt?
Why does the pain make me dish out the dirt?

I try so hard. Hard is how bad I try.
To make my life good and treat all people right.
I try to show love. I love with my heart.
But, it’s never enough. I get pissed and it starts.

I go off on them fast. I can’t stop my own mind.
It happens so fast that my mind has no time.
How do you stop the very thing that’s a mess?
With itself in control, and itself in distress?

Why does that happen? Why must it be?
Why is this brain in ownership of me?
I want it gone. I want it to flee.
I want to be normal. Normal I must be!

But, what is that normal? Does it really exist?
Is it real? Is it fake? Is it all just a trick?
Are we tricked that the world has a radar for life?
A life that is measured from normal to shite?

These are the thoughts that fly through my head.
In my head they will stay, until the day I am dead.
They don’t leave me be, leave me be they won’t do.
So, I try to exist with them as bipolar fuel.

So, what do I do? Do I try or give up?
Do I keep trying hard, or do I free those I love?
Do I let them say goodbye to me, and move on my way?
Move on so far that I free them of my stay?

I would free them of my presence… A presence that is pain.
One that isn’t worth the time in their days.
Why would anyone want this piece of shit around?
I belong in a cave, or in a crack in the ground.

My anger. My pain. My sadness. Myself.
Every bit about me is trouble for all else.
I’m not worth their love. I’m not worth their time.
Their love and their time is worth more than my dime.

These are the thoughts that fly through my head.
In my head they will stay, until the day I am dead.
They don’t leave me be, leave me be they won’t do.
So, I try to exist with them as bipolar fuel.

To all those I love whom I’ve hurt many days.
So much I have hurt you. Why do you stay?
Why do you keep me in your life when I’m this?
This nothingness that wanders and barely exists?

I’m sorry that I’ve hurt so many of you.
I’m sorry I’m a mess and a stain on your shoe.
I’m sorry I exist as I am… an empty shell.
I’m sorry my tries seem to all go to hell.

These are the thoughts that fly through my head.
In my head they will stay, until the day I am dead.
From that day forth, I will live a pain-free life.
But until that day comes, I’m stuck with this mind.

 

 

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.

 

Blog For Mental Health 2013

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Almost one year ago (will be a year in March), I joined the blogging community. In that time, I’ve met a lot of people – both fellow bloggers and readers – who have been generous with their time and interest in what I write. It’s been quite an experience, to say the least. It’s strange because when I first started my blog, I never considered that I’d become a part of any community. I just thought I’d post pieces and if people read them, great… if not, then that’s ok too. I was doing it mostly to help with my own healing and acceptance of my mental illness. However, after almost a year, I’ve discovered that I am in good company in the blogging world. I’m surrounded by great people who all understand the pain, stigma and heartaches of mental illness. And, we all share our ups, downs, good times, bad times and worst times, and are able to be there for one another.

Therefore, when I read about a blog pledge that is taking place among this mental health community, I wanted to learn more. To state right off the bat, this is not an award. This is a pledge to be a part of a growing community of mental health bloggers who want to make a change. People who want to help change the world’s view of mental illness and help people to understand what it’s really like. In addition, it’s to help provide comfort to those who suffer. Last night, I read two posts from two separate bloggers who are pledging to blog for mental health in this new year of 2013. Cate from Infinite Sadness… or Hope? And, Ruby from I Was Just Thinking are the two I read about, and they both are so encouraging in their pledges. So, I went to the original post about this blogging pledge called Blog For Mental Health 2013. Canvas Of The Minds has made an open pledge to those who wish to join this campaign, and I have decided to accept it.

You probably notice the wonderful pledge badge at the top of this page (and on my right sidebar) that was created for this campaign. Lulu from Sunny With A Chance of Armageddon designed the awesome badge. Thank you Lulu for creating a wonderful badge that can give us a visual representation of what we want to accomplish this year.

It’s Time to Make My Pledge

So, now I will follow the required steps as I make my official pledge to Blog For Mental Health in 2013.

I pledge my commitment to the Blog For Mental Health 2013 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.

As I’ve stated, I have accepted this pledge from A Canvas Of The Minds, in their announcement post. I thank them for welcoming those of us who wish to join in this crusade; a crusade of ending stigma, providing real facts and not misguided information, and most of all, giving support and a hand to those who are struggling with mental illness in this world. Thank you for offering me the chance to provide something positive through my illness.

The third step in accepting my pledge is to provide a short biography of myself in regards to my mental health and how it affects me. So, here it goes.

I have suffered from bipolar disorder since I was in at least my late teens. After a few years of therapy now, I’ve been able to realize that my mental illness began around that time and it only continued to get worse as I got older. I knew that something was wrong by my early twenties, and that is when it became noticeable to others. For this reason, I usually say my illness began to show its face in my late teens/early twenties. I’m never sure which is accurate. The symptoms (at least those that I can for sure pinpoint) began in my late teens, but they didn’t start to become problematic until my early twenties.

Either way, though, by the time I was in my mid twenties, I was starting to lose complete control over whom I was and I was losing myself to who I was becoming. I was frightened, angry, frustrated and hopeless that I’d ever find out what was wrong with me. My loneliness was mounting during this time, and it would only get worse leading up to my diagnosis in 2009. It was then, and only then, that I finally found doctors who truly listened. They didn’t offer me their quirky theories about what was going on with me. They didn’t hear me explain how I felt, only to respond with a simple, “Mhm.” These new doctors listened. In a year that had become the darkest and lowest of my life, I had finally found people who wanted to help me… truly help me.

It took a while to receive an official diagnosis from these doctors, but that was ok. I knew they weren’t just taking their time for no reason or because they didn’t care. It was quite the opposite. They did care, and wanted to make sure they got it right. So what’s my diagnosis? I have bipolar II, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and severe social anxiety with panic attacks. I take medication and go to therapy weekly. I see my psychiatrist every 1-3 months, depending on how I’m doing.

So, what does this mean to me? It means that I will have an unexpected struggle for the rest of my life. When I was a kid, I never thought I’d be diagnosed with a mental illness. I felt sorry for people who were diagnosed with such problems. Now, I’m one of those people. The difference is now I don’t feel sorry for ‘them’ anymore, because I realize that there is no ‘them’. We are all the same as any other normal person out there in this world. Yes, we struggle. Yes, our brains don’t work the way they should. Yes, we need to take medication to help keep us going from day-to-day. Yes, we have pain and often are not understood by even the most supportive of loved ones. But, even after all of that, we are still human beings. We are still worthy of dignity, respect and most of all, compassionate support. We all deserve to be loved and accepted. 

So, with this pledge, I vow to try my best to blog for mental health awareness, and help bring about the fact that mental illness does not equate to an alien race that doesn’t belong on this planet. We have every right to be here as anyone else, and we need to let it be heard that we are not going to back down. We will not give into the stigma.

Hopefully, someday, a generation of youth in this country will be able to hear someone make an ignorant comment about mental illness and respond with a, “Wow! You’re lame. Stigma was sooooo 2013.”

As I come to the end of my pledge, I am left with one final task, and that is to pledge five bloggers whom I feel would be great for this campaign. However, I am going to take a page from the wonderfully awesome Cate at Infinite Sadness… or Hope?, and extend the open pledge that The Canvas of the Minds originally offered. I hope anyone who reads this and wants to join in will indeed do so. The community of mental health bloggers needs great minds like yours. If you speak or want to speak out on mental health, then please join us. You have a voice and it’s worth a lot.

One more thing… 

Lulu has also asked that we help to build this sense of community by joining the Blog For Mental Health 2013 Official Blogroll! So, if you decide to join in this campaign, no matter what time of the year it may be when you read this, then just link back to the Blogroll’s original post. Once you do that, just click here and leave a comment with the link to your pledge so that you can be added to the official blogroll page.

Show the world our strength, show them our solidarity, show them what we are made of. Take the Blog for Mental Health pledge and proudly display the badge on your blog!

A Special Thank You

I would like to end this post with a special thank you to a very good friend of mine. She’s still standing by my side, even after some not so great times, especially recently. She has helped me to also see that blogging is beneficial to me in more ways than one. I appreciate her encouragement, love, and especially her patience. I know I’m not easy to be patient with when I’m in a bad place. I thank you, Lisa, for not giving up on me, and being such an awesome, caring and understanding friend. I love you!

Take care, all… and I hope this year can be a fruitful one for all of us in this mental health community and beyond. God Bless!