When I think of those who battle mental disorders I think of the word ‘fly’. If you watch a bird in the sky they have pure freedom. That freedom is key and is what fly means to me. The ability to have pure freedom to be ourselves in a world that is constantly trying to change us. The ability to not be perfect and express it. That is my goal in sharing my story. I am not afraid to show my flaws or ashamed of my past. I want others to be able to tell their stories without fear or judgment.
If I can do my part in controlling stress and depression triggers, keeping them at a distance, or out of my life completely, by drawing a solid line between what I deem to be benign and what will definitely jeopardize my health – I’m going to do just that. It’s called survival.
Through my years of traveling with post traumatic stress disorder and major depression, I wrote a lot of journal entries. Each word represented an aspect of my life at that time. I kept one of those journals, and, on occasion, I like to open it up and remind myself how far I have come. The journals were beneficial in my life during my travels with PTSD and depression because they helped me to see the various aspects that triggered worse outcomes or made them better.
BC2M has changed the minds of many in terms of mental health awareness. BC2M has changed my life. For that I thank everyone involved with BC2M. Your kindness and friendship have helped me regain some of the three self’s. I look forward to the next 5 years and what we individually and collectively will accomplish. It makes my life worth living.
I realized the hypocrisy of my fears and my decision for the past 5 years not to share this one diagnosis. If I was truly going to walk the walk and talk the talk, if I was going to stand on equal ground with the 80,000+ people who have ‘liked’ BC2M on Facebook, if I was going to encourage my own children to be fearless and open about their own diagnoses . . . if I wanted to let go of the shame and the secrecy, then I HAD to stop ‘editing’ my story.
In my five years with Bring Change 2 Mind (BC2M), it has become clearer by the day that the more we speak openly about mental illness, the more empowered we become. Without BC2M, I don’t know if I would have the courage to tell my story to a room of strangers without worrying how I’d be perceived and judged.
Some friends are strictly online. That has been good, but troubling at times in converting that to time together in the real world. The online friends are important to me – I do not mean to diminish that. But…..I have not made any real friends. I have no one call me…or text me. I do not go out for lunch or dinner. I have no one to discuss regular topics.
Depression used to keep me down and I hated myself for being a quitter. I believed I was incapable of seeing things through. My MO was to give up on everything I tried to accomplish. Now’s there’s a new opportunity for me to push through another blockade of fear, defy the wicked lies of depression, stand up to the immobilizing impact of anxiety and, at the same time, tell you all about it.
Today I wanted to write to those who support the ones who are fighting. Whether it is depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, or any of the many mental health disorders there is much to be learned. So if you are a solid rock by the side of someone who is fighting then I pass on these words of advice to you. I speak from the perspective of a person who has fought the battle and the person who now helps someone else fight it.
Being open about mental health is hard enough when you are doing it to your dog, let alone to your boss or client. But, as my daughter can attest, you spend more time with the people you work with than you do your own kid. And there, for the obvious reasons, is where most people try to keep their mental health a secret.