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.

 

 

Living in a Fantasy World? You’re Not Alone

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

Refuge and Meditation

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why I Wrote This Post

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

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

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

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

Tap Into Your Imagination’s Energy

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

Give Yourself Credit

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

~Author Unknown

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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!