I overheard a quote once that said "Hate is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die."
I always liked that quote and still I drank my poison down. It tasted bitter like whiskey and cigarettes, burned match tops and rancid pool water. It choked me and set up residence in my bloodstream. Like any aggressive infection it spread into other parts of my life. It leaked into my relationships, my dreams, my self esteem. It haunted me like an ancestor's ghost. Stalked me like a dark shadow waiting to pounce. Stifled my other emotions. Raged like the angry waves after a storm and ravished my every thought and notion.
It was a fever I could not break. A wall I could not tear down. A memory I could not shatter no matter how hard I tried. I felt like hollowed bones buried in hallowed ground. I was unable to be free of the rage and anger and it made me hate.
I was angry because I was afflicted. I raged because I could not be normal. I denied my issues and tried to stuff them back down. Mental illness does not go away just because you refuse to accept that you have one. I learned this the hard way and as such I hated it, hated my life, and worse yet hated myself for not being like everyone else. Accusatory glances were thrown in my direction and they all came from the mirror. I self hated so much it became a habit. I would blame myself for things that I had no part of. I would say derogatory things to myself. I put myself down on a daily basis. I was so angry that finally I was unable to function anymore. Anger and rage are exhausting. It takes a lot of energy to keep up the rage and hatred. Like a child that falls asleep after throwing a huge fit complete with screaming, kicking, and crying. The energy is drained and you no longer are able to sustain. My anger and hatred were for all intensive purposes me throwing a major fit. Raging against the machine of my mind, raging against the ocean of negative thoughts, raging against the fact I would never be normal.
It was a blow to my psyche. I had to accept the inevitable. I am altered. I am different. I am sometimes broken. It took me a long time to be able to accept what so blatantly was staring me in the face. Once the hate, anger, and rage subsided I was able to have a moment of clarity. Clarity is always a good friend.
What I know about life is limited. Limited by the fact that I do not and am not able to see the world through rose colored glasses. I see things in a different way because my mind is different. What isn't limited is that I feel things in a more sensitive way. I am sensitive to other's pain and suffering. Sensitive to praise and acceptance. Sensitive to all the emotions around me. I not only see things differently but I feel them differently. I feel them more intensely. That doesn't mean that I am stupid or weak.
It took me years to realize that having a mental illness does not mean that I am weak. [tweet this]. It does not mean that I am ugly. It does not make me stupid, crazy, or unlovable. It simply sets me apart from the rest of society. It makes me different. It makes me unable to do some things but at the same time it has made me try things I never would have otherwise.
If I had never had mental illness, I would not be exactly where I am today. I would not have the passion to reach out to others that suffer from mental illness. I would not be blogging about mental illness or creating google groups for it. I would not read about it's issues and what is going on the mental illness community. I am sure I would have a passion for something else, but right now because of my past issues, I have this passion. It's a beautiful thing to struggle and come out on the other side. Once I put down the anger, hatred, and self blame I realized that although my life may not be what I had envisioned, it could still be good. It could be better than good, it could be remarkable. My life is remarkable to me. I don't have to be like anyone else or think like anyone else to be happy. I can be happy just being me. I still have hard days. My mental illness will never go away. It is always going to be with me. I can sometimes feel broken, but I realize that I am not as fragile as I once was. I realize that I am exactly where I am supposed to be and doing exactly what I am supposed to do. I let go of my anger and I gained something much more important back, I gained myself back. I gained my life back. I gained an understanding of my mental illness and an acceptance of it. As I learned to let go I learned to accept. Accept not just what I have but accept who I am as a person, a mother, a friend, and a woman who suffers from mental illness.