My daughter spilled her cup of milk this morning. Out of no where, my son came over and put his arm around her and broke out in the song Here Comes the Sun by the Beatles.
“Little darling, it’s all right…” he sang to her before running back to his Legos.
Her tears averted at having made a mess.
As I cleaned up the milk, I did not admonish her. The milk spill was accidental, and most know, ‘There is no use crying over spilt milk.’
After my daughter was back in business with a clean spot at the table and another cup of milk, I reached for my phone and cued up Here Comes the Sun.
Not a bad way to start the day.
Since my doctor’s appointment on Tuesday, I am starting to feel better. I am not entirely on solid ground again as I wait for the new dosage of my medication to kick in. But I feel better knowing that I am on top of my anxiety and mania and using all the tools in my toolkit.
Doing so has opened my eyes to a couple of things.
- I’ll never be totally cured or immune from anxiety or mania, but I can treat my illness and live a happy, stable life.
- Asking for help and disclosing my troubles is everything. I shared what I am going through with a few key people in my life. It was amazing. I don’t need to wear my every problem on my shirtsleeve, but I do need to talk to SOMEONE.
- Applying all that I know about my illness feels really wonderful because, even though I am not in the clear with my anxious state, I am aware of it and have many safety nets in place. I am doing everything I can to not let it get out of control. Anyone with mental illness knows that once it gets out of control, it’s a scary thing and the mind travels to mixed up places.
- There is still a ton I do not know about my illness. After scheduling a follow-up appointment with my psychiatrist in two weeks, I agreed to talk to a counselor the day after that appointment. Stable for a few years after my last hospitalization, and just when I thought I knew it all, this wave of instability occurred. It’s eye-opening, and I am full-fledged trying to make sense out of it. Part of doing so is putting many other areas of my life on hold until I can get a grip. Before Christmas, I hope. I do not want to miss the magic with my children who are prime-time Santa believers.
- I am learning how to talk to my husband about all of this, as well as other important people in my life. I am learning who to tell what. When I experience an anxiety attack or a brush-in with mania, I tend to over-talk (really fast) and inappropriately share, and then I talk in circles and view my surroundings with a hyper-awareness that is exhausting. None of this is productive because half the time I talk cryptically or do not explain myself or people have no clue what I am talking about. God forbid, people think I am crazy! (I jest). Getting a handle on identifying people who understand mental illness or who know how to simply support and love me, even if they do not understand it is vital. I have faced this alone for a really long time, and I am learning I don’t have to. Hell, it’s just plain foolish to try to do it alone. A fool no longer, I tell myself. Pride be gone. Time to for me to turn my mind outward and not inward. I can still be true to and feed the introverted parts of my personality, but I also need to let the vivacious parts of my personality shine into the world and live, unapologetically, the way I am capable of, even in the midst of mentally ill moments. We all get colds and it’s no big deal. But being mentally ill? Well, that’s just poppycock. But I’ll tell you now, justification be damned. Mental illness is real.
- Last night, I turned a few pages in the book Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. I applaud her for opening her world and her struggle with mental illness to the world. I know her book is sparking new conversations about mental illness all over the globe. I wonder, can I be part of that? I have many points to add, and though I resonate with some of her illness, not all. I have my own stories to tell. And the more stories that are heard by doctors and researchers, the more potential to gather qualitative data along with the quantitative data that already exists. Just as important, I know her book is a wonderful catalyst to continue breaking down the stigmas associated with mental illness. I hope more people find help, and all of us affected start kicking ass. Imagine the waves we’ll make. In my case, the creativity that could potentially explode. The right words are in me, but I won’t ever know if they are useful to others unless I put myself out there. (I’m a little scurrrred about the thought).
- As I continue to write this blog and my platform takes flight, I decided to change the ‘Category’ I created for this topic from ‘Mental illness’ to ‘Mental health.’ The word ‘health’ sounds more hopeful than ‘illness’, and I want to send a message of hope as I find my way through troubled times. Yes, I have a mental illness — but I have worked really hard to find a treatment plan that allows me to reach a mentally healthy place and I want others to know they can have that, too.
- I am all for finding hope within myself, seeking help, and speaking out about the state of my mental health — the good and bad. Funny enough, and for the first time, I am partly coping with this ‘sick’ time in my life by pushing it out of my system via this blog post. From where I am at with my illness, I want to advocate and cause a trickle-down effect that can let what I am sharing speak to someone else who might be struggling. I am not naïve — mental illness is a complex subject — but the more information that society has access to about mental illness, the better.
- As far as I have come with acceptance of my illness, starting this blog under a pen name has opened my eyes to how easy it is for me to share without feeling judgement from people in my life who have no idea how I live internally when I am ill — the racing thoughts and anxiety that sometimes overcome my world and turn me into a manic mess are something I hide quite well. Right now it feels healing to let some of this out, even if only to a small audience. If at least one person reading this can understand some of what I am talking about then it is a win for both of us. Yet still, I am not altogether forthcoming with my identity. Come on society, please let me be freer without hiding in between the branches of my personal life. Please help me find the gumption to share more, because I have a shitload of knowledge, on top of personal experience, in my brain about this topic.
- Alongside medication, running and writing keep me on an even keel. HOWEVER, I need not be so regimented (OCD, perhaps?) about a schedule. I am learning to write when I need write; run when I need to run. Not to beat myself up if I miss a run or don’t have time to blog. Jump at an opportunity to run or blog even if it wasn’t on my to-do list for the day. Letting go of routine and regiment and trusting myself to take care of myself during episodes of anxiety and mania is important. I am learning, but haven’t mastered, how to take a sick day without shame. (Being a stay-at-home-mom makes it even more difficult). As I write, I am learning how to temporarily amend my life and surrender to my illness — to give myself a few days to get better, and I hope, to let my creativity shine along the way. I can recover. I will recover. I will be healthy again. I will thank myself. And my family and friends will love me even more, especially my kids if Mommy is at her best come Christmas morning.
Little darling, it’s alright…
(Listening to The Beatles is officially part of my treatment plan now).