Toady I read this magnificent post shared by a google + friend. I shared it right away, because it is so truthful and honest. It inspired me on what to write about. It actually correlates with my feelings of events lately as well.
I sometimes feel left out. Sometimes my emotions are so raw I need to check with a dear friend or my mother to see if my emotions are valid or if I am blowing them out of proportion. Apparently, I cannot trust the depth of my emotions anymore. I am so sensitive that something that doesn't bother others can crush me. I tend to self hate. Well, correction my mind self hates and I am left to battle it or pick up the pieces.
The post I read about had said that you shouldn't look at what mental illness has taken away from you but look at what it has given you. I find that quote to be beautiful. After all, having a mental illness is like a trade of sorts. You trade what normal people do for whatever you can do. It usually seems to be in a creative field. Your trade being normal for being stronger as well. It occurred to me that since my mental illness started when I was four, I haven't really ever taken stock in what my mental illness has taken from me. How can I be thankful of what I have left or anything I have gained if I have never realized just how much I have lost?
I grew up with dreams of driving at sixteen, having tons of friends, being carefree and popular. I dreamed of graduating high school and going to college. I had dreams of having a career that I loved and excelled at. I had dreams that I would settle down, have kids, and do normal things.
I didn't realize that some of things would not be possible for me. I did not realize that my mental illness would get worse.
Mental illness came into my life so early that I never saw the changes I was going through. I never realized how very different I was from other children. I didn't see that it was sucking out my soul one drop at a time until I was so deep into it I was afraid I wold never function again. For me it took years to open my eyes.
I can not say for certain that OCD has stopped me from driving. I also have vision issues that would make driving dangerous.It does play a part in it, so I never got my driver's license. I drove three times and it was always the same, scary and almost wrecked. I can't see well enough over the dashboard to tell where the car is. The voice in my head yelling at me that I am going to crash doesn't help that either.
I had friends. None of them knew I had a mental illness. I certainly wasn't going to tell them over playing Barbie's or at imaginary tea parties that I had bad images in my head. I am sure that would have went over really well with their parents.
I was and have never been carefree. I is impossible for me to be. I have tried, I failed, it doesn't work. That doesn't mean I am not fun, but I am not able to have reckless abandon. Not in my nature I suppose.
I never stood up for myself or gave myself any credit. I despised my issues and the fact that I was not like others around me. That I would never be like others around me.
Mental illness swooped in and created anxiety attacks while going to school. They became so bad I had to stop going. I never graduated. I was unable to go to college. I was an A and B student and I could have gotten a scholarship. It wouldn't have mattered. I would not have been able to walk into the school building or go to class.
I am not able to work. The stress builds up so quickly that I go to a place that scares me. My mental health rapidly declines and my physical health goes with it. I become ill constantly. I can not fight off sickness as if my body is trying to show me how my mind feels. I become anxiety ridden and then utterly depressed.
Today, after years of therapy and working on my issues I can see the things I have lost. I don't have many close friends. I can count them on one hand. They are dear to me like sisters. My emotions are sometimes over powerful. I cant drive. I am not successful in a job I don't have. I am not anything like I thought I would be when I was a child but then who is?
But I have traded for other things. Better things. Things that I am proud to say I have accomplished.
I have found the love of my life and had two beautiful children. I have become an outspoken person who stands up for myself. I have given up the school and a job , but I discovered that I could write. Had I not been forced to look for something to fill my spare time I may have never discovered it. I found that I could be a mental health advocate. That I could be honest and still be accepted. In fact, the other day I told a family member that I was a mental health blogger. I felt this amazing feeling swell up inside me and I was beaming. What he hell was this emotion? Oh yeah, it was pride. I had never felt pride in myself before. It is a wonderful sensation. Maybe I should tell more people? I could get addicted to the feeling of pride.
So it is a trade off. I have gained many things that I otherwise may not have had I been normal. Would my life have been easier? Sure. Would that normal life be anymore important than then one I have now? No. I am the way I am supposed to be doing what I am meant to do. I believe that what I do and say matters. That I can promote others to realize that what they say and do matters as well. That I can raise two amazing kids. That I don't have to drive or be a successful business woman to fill my life with joy or understanding. I can do that just the way I am. Did mental illness take somethings in life away from me? Yes, but I am so thankful I am able to have the things in my life that I have been given.