By NAMI Connecticut Guest Blogger, Diane Frost
My space has been, and is, always me defining how I will live with mental illness. I have one decision every day: will I be servant to my illnesses or not?
That being said, making this decision, can take me to a place of learning about positive motivation; or recognizing how heavy a burden I carry. The latter beckons me down a no-good path of woe. The former empowers me to maintain the upper hand. I’ve chosen to habilitate my strengths to remind my symptoms to mind their portion of who I am becoming. Illnesses or otherwise. I’m always becoming a person with these options.
I know it sounds trite, but everyone has something to inspire an identity of woe, and vice versa. Maybe I am different in choosing to form and refine my strengths. Never will illness get my soul completely. There is no chance that I’ll believe my lifetime is not earned for the joining.
I was born deep in the disorder. I’ve earned the distinction of figuring this out myself and not for one minute have I ever doubted wanting to be in the world, or the world needing me to live. I share this in direct and sometimes challenging terms because both my bipolar and anxiety disorders simmer over a hot flame.
Some providers I’ve spoken with ask, referencing my bipolar, how my mood is. Well, I’m not in a good or bad mood. I expend time and energy to neither succumb to a state of too little stimulation, nor being overwhelmed by what life has put in front of me. Either can make me a nerve-ridden, defeated, or a plain restless girl. I’ve been known to curl up and hide. That’s the worst time for me to struggle when I am seeking higher ground. I’m not describing an anxiety attack or psychotic episode; only the need for peace and still ground. We all need foundations!
I wish the psych/healthcare industry would cease to call equilibrium “moods.” I and my mental health disorders operate on a spectrum of energy and time. It is simply a matter of how brain chemicals allot energy throughout time that manifests into hyper, hypo, and depressive periods. I work them out with prescribed medication and healthy living skills.
Surely, at this point in my life I have well-honed coping skills. If I need to even out my energy distribution (hyper/hypo) I will clean my home, do some writing, or swim or do otherwise at my gym. The gym is not so far away to give me a good cardio warm-up before I get to the real workout. This has always been my go-to balance out plan. Other methods have fallen to cut expenses (shopping) or are too labor intensive (restoring furniture that I keep).
When people remark on my high energy activity, or fatigued disposition, I simply ask them to brew some coffee light and sweet and buy me cake. I usually don’t hear about it after giving such shade. And, like many people I have developed a plethora of deflective statements to address onlookers who share the world with me and make unfounded judgements.
Every day I’m in a new space. I see past stigmatizing ignorance and mostly choose sunshine all about me walking through town. I try always to smile and greet the day. It will be a good one, and two, and three, and four.