I read a LOT of self help books. My mother said to me one day last year “I think it’s great that you want to improve upon yourself, but Donna, what about fun? Well, I read art books, that counts for fun. And I read articles online, a lot about cancer, guess that isn’t too fun… But this comment of hers “came back” in my head this past week.
Thinking about sensitivity. I have always been very sensitive. Cry easily (ask my siblings, growing up with me, my parents didn’t know what to do with me and my emotions, so to eliminate stress for all, they would omit sharing things with me! Now, this works, to an extent, but not all that great after that. I found myself in my 30s and 40s before I started to really learn how to sit with stuff, how to deal with things that otherwise “hurt”. Hey, they did their best, no blame there, just thinking about what it would be like to NOT be so sensitive?
I remember sitting in a 12 step meeting, an addict was struggling. He shared how his newly found sobriety was good, but it was also overwhelming. He realized booze helped numb him from his “oversensitivity” (also labeled that as a child). He was an artist, and part of who he was was this beautiful sensitive soul, and he didn’t want to lose that. But he was going bat shit trying to figure out how to cope with life on a daily basis without a numbing agent. I sat there, shaking my head with understanding. I thought EVERYONE cried at the end of Casper?!? And a whole lot of other things.
Where is the balance? I don’t know. The older I get, the easier it becomes to screen or throw stuff out that I just don’t want to cope with. I’m not talking about responsibilities, but others drama and things that frankly, bring me discomfort or discontent. I have heard, numerous times, that most mental illness (including addiction) comes with an undiagnosed dual diagnosis. I think about this, and I have many many friends who have been treated for one, and who still struggle. It was like being diagnosed with ADHD just two years ago at 51. Holy crap! Medication made my life SO MUCH BETTER. I was the first to judge another if they put their children on ADD or ADHD meds. Now? I encourage. If this gives their child an opportunity to function better (and it will if they are truly ADD/ADHD), their life will be improved upon so much. Mine has.
Most people my age are only diagnosed because their children were, first. The things that I once thought were “normal” and that everyone shared, and now I realize, a big part of my self esteem and confidence being lower than it should. Because I felt stupid, or lazy, sometimes crazy. I have always known I’ve been wired different from others, but I always attached a negative connotation (just listed above) to it. The truth is, I’m not stupid, nor lazy, nor crazy. I’m not! I struggle with mental illness and this isn’t fun. But I’m not insane.
Most important thing for me to do has been and will be to learn how to cope…. I believe I have good self awareness, and I strive, I really do, to be a good person, do the right thing, one day at a time. I’m not special in my struggles, I’m far from alone. But you know what is worse? It HAS to be having an undiagnosed, untreated mental illness. And the stigma that is attached and has been to mental illness sadly keeps many lives struggling, with little quality.
I recently went off five medications after I was discharged from my outpatient therapy because I had missed too much time. Another blog. I weaned myself off, and started to pay attention to my body. I believe I was overmedicated. Now, I am starting to “feel” again, and my hands do not shake anywhere near what they did, which is part of why I stopped painting, teaching. I’m doing well. I’m focusing on the physical problems that need attention, and keeping a close check on my depression with close friends, through blogging, and a lot of prayer.
I want a quality life. I want to feel peace, happiness. I want to feel grief without losing myself to it, or several years of my life. This means I have to learn to coping skills, and I have and am. I need to accept that part of being me is being sensitive and to accept myself for who I am, and may very well always be. I remind myself that God doesn’t make junk, and that I was designed to be perfectly imperfect. We all were.
Today I’ve had a nice day, a peaceful day, a productive day. I’m very grateful for this. I’ll deal with tomorrow when it gets here. Just want to say one more thing. If you have never been diagnosed or treated for mental illness, educate yourself. Read articles, peoples blogs, etc. Only a very small percentage are really insane. Most of us struggling with learning disabilities and mental illness are just trying to find our way out of the chaos that can ruminate in our heads. I share on my experiences to help others know, they are far from alone. I know it helps me to know this, too.
Happy Mental Health!