Victim, Survivor, PERSON

My last two post have been crazy, emotional, serious, all over the place, way-too-much-thinking kind of posts. I would apologize, but I won’t because I am a crazy, emotional, serious, all over the place, way-too-much-thinking kind of person.

The operative word being PERSON.

Yep, I am a person. Fighting the good fight in life. Trying to look for a little more laughter and a little less woe. Especially lately.

I feel a little bad trash-talking my Dad in my last post. But only a little. He can handle it, should I ever share those feelings with him.

The funny thing about today is that three out of four of us in my household are sick, yet I have this positive feeling inside of me. My son and I have the flu and my daughter has an ear infection. We all basically feel like crap. Crappy, crappy, crap.

The positive feeling?

For one, we have all been to the doctor and been diagnosed. Good for us. I have mentioned before, in relation to bipolar, a diagnosis is everything.

Never once this morning did I consider not getting treatment for us. We are sick. We need medicine, and we got the medicine. We are taking the medicine.

Not an iota of, Oh my God we can handle this, just suck it up, we’re not sick, get over it, we don’t need medicine, we don’t need help, don’t tell anyone, it’ll pass, suck it up, thoughts taking over my mind, as was the case with mental illness.

For years, I suffered inside my head when really, all I needed was a diagnosis and treatment. Simple as that. What wasn’t so simple was me admitting my symptoms to a doctor or my family until it was too late and I went over the edge.

That’s neither here nor there. It’s over. I’ve said that before and I’ll say it again. The reason I am bringing it up in relation to today’s sicknesses is that it was no big deal to tell my family and friends that we are sick. To call, to text, to share x-ray results when they thought I had pneumonia. And as I drove from the doctor to a lab to the pharmacist I couldn’t help but feel SO NORMAL.

Like, wow, I thought. This is what a normal person does when they are sick. Who knew?

I have gone through this totally normal process with my kids many times throughout the years, but I rarely get physically sick. Do you see how it struck me today? Do you see the funny, positive part?

My physical sickness is helping me see just how biased and stupid I have been about my mental health. I know, I know I shouldn’t say I’m stupid, but it’s an appropriate word when I look back on how badly I fought mental illness, when if I just would have been honest and opened myself up, I could have prevented a lot of things.

The good news is that I am here. And now, even though my chest is tight and hurts every time I cough as the phlegm breaks up, I know I’ll get through it.

If anything this whole flu thing makes me want to fight harder. To treat the symptoms, share my progress with loved ones, rest, and not wallow. My husband took part of the day off work to help. My friend dropped off movies, children’s Advil and is dropping soup by later. I mean, how awesome to have people who want to help? And to LET them help.

And for me to lend a hand the next time someone else needs it (I’m totally going to jump on the first opportunity that comes my way).

When I started opening up about bipolar, it felt amazing. At some point after that, I started wallowing about it. It’s like I didn’t know how to move on and simply live with it. Of course, I have had to make medication changes and continue with therapy, but I realize there is never going to be a “stopping point” where I am “there” (other than, I imagine, when we die). The “there” is NOW.

In the last 24 hours I have started to retrain my brain to think of the good instead of obsessing over the bad in my life. I practiced it last night as I lay in bed in the middle of the night, after already have been woken twice (once by each kid). I lay there, my chest tight with pain every time I coughed. In the early morning hours I could hear the rain. Instead of focusing on sickness, lack of sleep, and dreary rain, I imagined bright colors in my mind and took my mind to places that made me happy. It took a lot of concentration, but I started to get the hang of it.

As I move on in my life I am going to focus on the following:

SERVICE

GRATITUDE

How can I serve (help) others and make someone else’s day better?

How can I acknowledge what I am grateful for?

I want to keep service/helpfullness to others at the forefront of my mind and look for opportunities. When I was in a medical building this morning to have my chest x-rayed I took note of the gorgeous facility and all the educated doctors, nurses and staff who were working hard to keep people in this area healthy. I thought, Wow, what a service they are doing for this community.

I took note of all the different exam rooms. Blood work, MRI, X-ray, orthopedics, and on and on and on. I was grateful to have access to such wonderful care. I made a mental note of it.

Last fall I started a gratitude journal. I keep it by my bed and every night (or when I remembered) I jotted down a few things from my day that I was grateful for. It was a nice little bedtime routine.

Then I quit doing it on December 24, 2015 when I hit a really low point. Since then I have been so up and down and all over the place that somewhere in the midst, I think I have forgotten to be grateful for all that I have in my life.

Time to change that. I wrote in the journal last night, and even though I felt like crap (have I mentioned that?), I simply wrote, “That I am ALIVE.”

Yes I am a victim of verbal abuse as a child/adolescent and mental illness.

I am also a survivor.

But more than either of those things, I am a PERSON, just like you and you and you and you. A living, breathing, beautiful, flawed, emotional being.

If I ever lost sight of something as a little girl, my Dad would yell, “Get your head out of your ass!” Seriously, that’s how he talked to me. But in this moment, it’s actually a pretty good suggestion. Thanks, Dad. (Just maybe you shouldn’t have said things like that to me when I was 12).

I will be glad when the flu runs its course in my body, but for now, I am thankful it’s made me realize, in the end I am just a regular person (with an extra helping of CRAZY on the side).

Time to get back to life (with a double dose of LAUGHTER).

For example, in the midst of everyone feeling all crappy this morning, my daughter spilled a whole cup of grape juice all over the place, including the dog’s back and face. I found it hysterical, especially because just an hour before I brushed green paint from last week’s art project out of his fur.

Kids and a dog and a husband and a friend. Thanks life!

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