A distinction should be made between “mental health,” and “mental illness.” Caring for our mental health is not the same as treating a mental illness.
“Boing, boing, boing!” rings the alarm on my phone. “Mom, it’s time to take your meds!” my four-year-old exclaims. That specific ringtone chosen as my medication reminder has forever ingrained in our minds the utter importance of my taking my medication. On time. Because we all know what happens if I don’t.
Screams escaped me like a steaming kettle. There was no way to turn down the burner, no hand to pull it off of the heat. My mom was at a loss as to how to help me. She showed me my face in a mirror but I didn’t recognize that girl.
I’m grieving my scars
Both inside and out
I’m grieving the losses
That created self doubt
Scars are physical, mental, and emotional. It’s ok to grieve them.
My manic-depressive cycles spread my moods all over like a strong wind blows sand in patterned deposits next to a turbulent sea. Except I haven’t figured out the pattern so that I can flow with it, embrace it, and control it. I’m seeking recovery, but the journey is long, arduous, and leaves me parched, longing for stability in soft ever drifting sand.
Receiving a diagnosis of manic-depression in 2019 has flipped my world upside down. Again. If it’s not one crisis, it’s another. My life is a continual cycle of moods rising up into uncontrollable energy, peaking in a fight or flight rampage, and then a hard crash into depression. Now to address the hurt. The fight or flight impulses. The mean girl.
Hurting people hurt people. It’s a saying I hear a lot and have said as many times when someone has done something hurtful to me or someone else. This is a phrase I have always applied to someone else. I love Jesus and follow him daily. I wouldn’t hurt anyone!
The next day I brought my poem to school and something novel happened for my 8 year old self in 1991 where computers were just something you had a class for about 30 minutes per week. My teacher typed up my poem, put a floral border on it, and there it came through her dot-matrix printer. I was so excited. To see MY words on a piece of PRINTED paper! I took pink, blue, purple and green markers and neatly colored the flowers. I rifle through my parent’s basement every time I visit them (which isn’t often these days). Every time I come up empty handed and every time my heart breaks a little more for that lost paper which held my first significant piece of writing in a long journey of growing love for the craft.