Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Mosaic

Me and my Grandmother

These are pictures of me before. Before the ticking time bomb of OCD was activated. Before the sleeping giant of my mental illness was awakened. There is nothing in these pictures to suggest that I would become mentally ill. They are just pictures of a happy go lucky two or three year old. A normal goofy, playful, hyper child. Normal appearances and normal things that children do. This is before. Before the smiling became a grimace of anxiety and fear. Before the intrusive thoughts. Before the washing my hands til they cracked and bled. Before the irrational fears of being poisoned or health obsessions. Before I knew that bad things can and do happen to good people. Before all of that I had a normal life. I wish I could remember what that was like but unfortunately, all I have of that time is smiling pictures and stories told to me by my grandmother and mother. I have no recollection of that time except tiny blurry visions of certain things. A favorite toy, a dress I liked, tiny blurbs of memories that sometimes are so convoluted they make no sense. Not uncommon as I have fuzzy memories all the way back to when I was two and a lot of people don't remember everything back that far. I wish I remembered more of it. It might be nice to know what normal is like.

                                                             My mother and me

Then again, why dwell on something that is no longer vital in one's life? I used to have problems looking at these pictures of me. I would silently grieve for a me I never got to know. A healthy well me. It took time to learn to let go. I was never going to be truly normal anyway, my OCD is genetic. Fantasy is nice but I live in the real world and the world is me now. The person I have grown into. The me that is strong, kind, and yes sick.

Finding myself is sometimes like trying to build a mosaic out of broken pottery. A puzzle where I try to make the pieces fit and to create a picture. Place the broken pieces with the whole ones. Lay the smooth edged pieces next to the jagged and sharps bits. It is time consuming and sometimes highly frustrating. Luckily, I am a crafty person. I do occasionally run out of grout and mortar. That is when I take the time to rest and look at what I have created so far. Building myself up and taking it back down. It is my life and I can create any mosaic I want to.

                                                        My grandmother and me 2013

I have been blessed enough to have help in that department. My mother and Grandmother are two of my greatest supporters. When others didn't understand or simply walked away they remained my constant. They have always made sure that I knew that I was not broken. That I was not all that my mind tried to tell me that I was. I have learned a lot having a mental illness for thirty years. In truth, I learn more everyday. You are never old to stop learning new things about yourself or the world around you. Everyday is a new day. Some of them will be horrible. Some of them will be neither good or bad. Some of them....some of them are terrific days. Those are the days I look forward to. That's not to say I don't have days where I am completely annoyed with myself. That is not say I don't have days with soul shattering grief and worry. That is not to say I am cured or recovered. Sometimes I wash too much. Sometimes I want to put my fingers in my ears and scream to drown out the intrusive thoughts. Sometimes I will sit on the couch and a wave of eviscerating guilt will wash over me and I have know idea why. Was it something I did that my brain deems as wrong? Was is something I said that may of hurt someone else's feelings? Was it an intrusive horrid thought that I have now forgotten but the feeling of dread has still lingered? It happens.

                                                      Mom and me on our birthday 2013

I guess if I have anything to say about being mentally ill it is that life is hard. There are struggles and hardships. That pictures of smiling people never show the bad times. Truthfully, who takes pictures of the bad times when you look like hell and feel like you have been through the wringer? Maybe some, but not most of us. However, I think smiling pictures are a good thing. It shows that there were times when we were happy. That we can be happy again. That we are at least worth the try. That we are important no matter how hard our minds try to tell us otherwise. That people depend on us. That we are loved. That we are unique and beautiful.  That we are strong. That whether we know it or not we are all crafting our own mosaics of our lives with the pieces of ourselves. Broken, whole, sad, happy, shattered, healing, jagged, and smooth pieces of our lives that make us who we are. The only real decision is what picture do we want to make them into as we glue them in place.

I think I would like mine to be a sunflower.......
Neurotic Nelly

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