What Do You Want?

I don’t want to be someone who, at the end of their life, regrets not having lived.

I don’t want to go to my grave filled with shame and guilt and woe.

I don’t want to live my life as a woman who allows her challenges and demons to decide her mood and daily choices.

I don’t want each day to be filled with rigid rules created by societal judgy-ness, resentment, and jealousy.

I want to be able to breathe. To feel my own two feet on the ground and know they and my Higher Power can and will support me – if I trust, believe, have faith, if I have hope. Not just in God but in myself.

I often forget about that part.

To believe in myself.

We can wake up and, instead of dreading the coming day, choose joy. Hope.

We can take responsibility for how we feel and how we shape our lives.

This seems overwhelming at times. But baby steps are how we win at every day, every moment.

We are strong enough.

We are good enough.

We can make simple changes in habitual thinking patterns, morning routines, after-work routines, relationships (with others and ourselves), our self image, and so on.

I want so much more out of life.

And so it’s up to me to do something constructive about that. To work toward it.

Today, I hope you know this isn’t a pointless existence. That the humdrum bustle and stress, the rat race and cruel jokes of fate – they aren’t all there is.

As Walt Whitman said,

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself; I am large — I contain multitudes.”

We are so much more. We can have so much more.

Our potential for joy and motivation, change and growth in a direction we crave – what we truly desire – it is lying dormant, waiting for our embrace.

I choose more.

What about you? What choices are you making? Because we mustn’t forget that not choosing, is a choice.

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How to Talk to Your Mentally Ill Friend

 

If you wouldn’t say it to someone with cancer…

If you wouldn’t say it to an amputee…

Don’t say it to someone with mental health challenges.

 

A person who is missing a limb can pray to God for help all day and night long. I’m pretty certain God (insert your Higher Power here, if not God) isn’t going to grow their limb back. We aren’t lizards. Not how it works.

Mental illness challenges are much the same. Not saying they’re the same as having your arms blown off, but you get me.

 

I get told to pray to God and He will take away my sadness.

One – depression and sadness are NOT the same thing.

Two – God gives us challenges on purpose. So we can figure out how to live with them in the way He wants us to. As well as help others who suffer from the same challenges. These things help us grow, challenge ourselves, rise to the occasion. Pretending like being bipolar is something I can just pray away is an insult to God and to myself. He has trusted me to handle this.

Perhaps it will go away. That happens.

Or perhaps it will be more like getting a knee injury. Occasionally, that knee will act up and I’ll have to deal with it.

There is no one way that mental health challenges work. Different person, different life experiences with mental illness.

But none of us can simply get up, decide to no longer have mental illness issues, and *poof* be healthy. Doesn’t work that way.

A cancer patient doesn’t get the diagnosis, decide to stop having it, and *poof* no more cancer. Uh-uh. They have to fight it. Give it everything they’ve got.

Sometimes the disease kills them.

Sometimes it doesn’t.

Sometimes it goes into remission and comes back, only to go into remission once again.

 

If you aren’t sure how to approach or talk to someone with mental health challenges, consider how you’d talk to a friend who has fibromyalgia or is in the process of going blind.

Mental illness isn’t a choice.

 

 

Yes, making good choices can alleviate it or even get rid of it. But that’s a process. And is true of all illnesses. Get diabetes or cancer, you’re going to have to change what you’re doing, eating, etc. Get panic disorder and you’re going to have to do the same.

We can all make good choices.

That includes aiming for understanding, empathy, kindness, compassion. Instead of telling someone with devastating depression or a mood disorder or any host of other mental illnesses, to simply “knock it off”, “get over it”, “choose to be happy,” “pray and trust God to take it away”, etc.

Perhaps your Higher Power will take it away. Just as He might take away cancer. But that’s not going to happen without the person trying, working for it, making changes, and suffering through a lot of pain that they didn’t choose to have.

 

We can be happy and depressed at the same time. Because happiness is the opposite of sadness. Not depression. Depression is an illness.

You wouldn’t tell someone to just knock it off and quit sneezing when they have a cold, would you?

 

SO IF YOU’RE UNCERTAIN whether or not to say something to someone who struggles with mental health issues (anxiety, depression, personality disorders, dissociative disorders, mood disorders, etc.) a pretty good guideline is:

If you wouldn’t say it to someone with cancer…

If you wouldn’t say it to an amputee…

Don’t say it to someone with mental health challenges.

Mental Illness and Failure

https://www.healthyplace.com/insight/quotes/quotes-on-mental-health-and-mental-illness

 

I read over this, continued on, then stopped as the end of the quote made it through my “scanning” mentality and into my freaking rib cage, where it proceeded to rattle around and saunter on into my soul with a glass of chocolate milk, a hatchet, and a killer smile painted red (from the blood of my demons, not lipstick).

 

“Your mental illness is not a personal failure.”

NOT

A

PERSONAL

FAILURE

 

…Yeah… Just let that beauty sink in.

Seriously. Take a minute.

 

I don’t think a sentence has ever given me such a pause.

If I get caught in a hurricane, a volcano’s explosive raining lava (like in the movies), and an earth cracking earthquake – all at once – I will not be as shooketh.

And I do not mean to cheapen the gravity of this truth with goofy word-smithery. But this is who I am. And if we’re on the subject of truth, how can I mute my strangeness while trying to communicate the uncommunicable of HOW THIS QUOTE HIT ME IN THE HEAD WITH A COYOTE AND ROADRUNNER SIZED ANVIL and then let me fall down the rabbit hole, forever?

The answer… I cannot.

 

My issues, they are not a personal failure.

This never occurred to me before.

Feeling ashamed to tell the truth, that ‘no’, I’m still not doing okay. I am still struggling. I am still broken and scarring and trying as hard as I can to dig myself out of a hole, only to find that I’m standing in the middle of a desert with a body bag and a knife.

…. This isn’t me failing.

This is me telling the truth.

Trying as hard as I can.

And feeling shame when I can’t just “pull myself up by the bootstraps” and become a mentally stable person.

 

Someone told me I remind them of Eeyore in the mornings when she picks me up for work. She didn’t say it maliciously. She was smiling. She is okay with who I am.

Why can’t I be?

Why do I see myself as a failure because I am not “whole” like other people?

Why do I feel the need to “get over” mental illness the way that people get over a cold?

I don’t have any outward symptoms. Any tell-tale signs of a physical illness. And unlike a sinus infection or bronchitis, I cannot “get over” mental illness and expect God to wipe me clean of the challenge He gave me.

Who knows if it’s a lifelong challenge? I might wake up in three years from now and no longer struggle with mental illness. I’m a believer in miracles. But I’m also a believer in God (or whatever/whoever your Higher Power is) giving us trials. And some of those trials are lifelong.

 

People don’t seem to understand this.

They expect us, those with mental illness, to simply chipper up. To get better and stay better forever. That because we had a good day, a good week, a good month, that we’re “cured” and we won’t struggle with this in the future.

A bad day, a bad week, a bad month, these things aren’t signs of failure or doing worse. They’re symptoms of mental illness.

And guess what?

We understand.

Sure, some of us use it as an excuse to do nothing, to expect nothing of ourselves, and to do nothing but wallow in the pain and expect everyone to disfigure their faces in sorrow and pity and miserate with us. But there are people like that in every walk of life, whether mentally ill or not.

Those people are a personality type. Much different from a passing emotion or coping mechanism or grieving stage. They’re different from the days we need to sit in our pain and feel it. How we need to define how we’ve been victimized before we can let go of being a victim. Or sit, paralyzed by anguish, fear, and stunned apathy at how unaware we were of how hard things would get. Or those days where we need to look at what we’ve been through, what we’re still hurting through, and sit there and hurt in it. Those move, they’re fluid. Mental illness is fluid. People who plant themselves firmly in misery and soak in it permanently, without trying to solve any puzzles in their lives… that’s not mental illness.

 

“Your mental illness is not a personal failure.”

I cannot put into words what this means for me. To me.

I can do everything right. Make all the right decisions. Get into all the healthy situations, atmospheres, in with all the right therapists and doctors and group therapies. But that sometimes doesn’t affect where my level of mental illness is that day.

I cannot keep myself from ever getting a cold by eating healthy, exercising, and taking healthy herbs and micronutrients.

Just as I cannot keep myself from having the unpredictable and uncontrollable symptoms of a mental illness by doing everything to keep my mental, emotional, and spiritual self as healthy as humanly possible.

Only God can heal me of mental illness permanently. And I am not God.

I can only do so much.

And still, I can get a cold.

That doesn’t mean I’ve personally failed.

 

And somehow, I feel shedding the tears that welled up when I read that sentence, is the only form of communication that can describe, paint, encapsulate all that I feel inside when I read it.

I cannot explain it to you.

You must feel it. You must know it.

We must believe that having a mental illness does not measure if we are a successful human being or not. Our challenges do not define us. What we do about them, how we do it, all those details… those are what define us.

 

“Your mental illness is not a personal failure.”

 

https://www.healthyplace.com/insight/quotes/quotes-on-mental-health-and-mental-illness

 

For more quotes on mental illness, check out this page, which is where I scrolled upon this paradigm re-shaper.

We Are All Cracked

A water bearer carried 2 pots from the river to her master’s house every day.

One pot was perfect, carried its load easily and without issue.

The second pot wore a crack.

By the time the water bearer got to her master’s home, the first pot would be filled to the brim with water, just as when she filled it at the river. The second pot, however, would only be half full, having leaked water the whole walk home.

This second pot was ashamed of its imperfection. It often wondered, “why not replace me?” One day it asked, humiliated and feeling ever so lacking.

The water bearer smiled kindly, lovingly. She said, “As we walk home, watch the flowers on the side of the path.”

The pot, in it’s misery watched the flowers along the side of the path, glumly resigned to a life of being worthless. I’m sure the cracked pot wondered why watching flowers could help anything. Along the way, it noticed there were only flowers on it’s side of the path. The pot carried on her other side, which leaked nothing and boasted perfection, had no flowers to watch go by on it’s side of the path.

When the water bearer arrived at the master’s home, she told the cracked pot, “You see, I knew you had a crack. I planted seeds on your side of the path and you watered them each day. I then pluck the flowers and beautify the master’s home with them each week.”

 

 

God loves us, cracks and all.

I love this story.

 

We all leak. We all have weaknesses, all make mistakes.

We still bring beauty to the world around us if we try our hardest to do so.

 

I just recently had hallucinations, you guys! It was crazy. But I was aware that I was hallucinating so it wasn’t so frightening. I did have to call in sick from work the next day though. Which sucked. But it happens.

You see, I was given a certain pill and had a monumentally horrid reaction. Eventually, not getting enough sleep, (even for me, having insomnia on and off), I ended up hallucinating.

Ha! Crazy experience!

What I’m getting at here, is this…

 

…I have a lot of health issues. They caused me to have to quit my full time job of construction. I now work part time and am searching for other part time work.

At the moment I cannot even buy my own food or my baby’s food (my dog).

I have quite a many cracks and, like the pot, there is nothing I can do to sew them up, to quit leaking. I cannot change how I was born. I can work toward a healthier life, yes, but I cannot change my health. I cannot slough off the debilitating depression or anxiety or exhaustion that shuts down my ability to focus or think properly (due to CFS), I cannot do anything about any of my health issues – and get another full time job and go to work like a normal, healthy person with stability of body and mind.

 

 

Often times I have felt like the cracked pot, ashamed of my weaknesses and inability to function like a hard working member of society.

But I’m now certain, somewhere along the way, the leaking I’ve done has allowed something wonderful to grow.

In the past month, I’ve realized, I am hard working. I am working crazily hard. With my family, helping others, attending my callings in life, writing, working part time, and coping with my limitations as best I can.

What more can I ask of myself?

 

We are all imperfect. We all have issues.

This is, of course, is only one part of my life. But I’ve shared with you so you can see how I can focus easily on what I cannot do, and woe over my incapacitates to have a purpose.

Or I can realize that by leaking, I’m helping flowers grow.

I am helping with much else in my life and the lives around me.

I have purpose.

I am loved, regardless.

 

I am cracked. We are all cracked.

We are lovable, regardless.