When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. However, when life brings sadness or darkness like mental illness, you can’t just get over it overnight!
For example: You trip and fall or accidentally cut yourself with scissors like me, you get a band-aid or stitches. If you have a headache, then cue the Tylenol or Execedrin. If you fall and break a limb, you go to the doctor and get a cast or surgery. With mental illness, you can’t do that. You can’t just slap a band-aid or cast on your internal suffering and then call it a day.
Oh how easy life would be if you could do that! I wish. Whatever remedy you swear by to help relieve your stress and your inner demons may work for you, but not for everyone else. For many who lived mental health free, us sufferers have constant war stories and scars that are all over our bodies that each story would take hours to tell. For me, yes! External scars on my body are ones from when I was a child and during young adulthood. I have scar on my arm because of a broken arm that occurred at age 8. I have scars from getting stabbed by a rusty nail and had to get those stitched along with a tetanus shot, too. OUCH. And I don’t know why I still have my old air casts for my ankles and my leg when I suffered sprains and a broken patella over 20 years ago. But internally, the scars are everywhere. Mainly, the scars in my heart and inside my head.
I can’t just slap a simple band-aid on that. It doesn’t work like that and never will. But what I can do is live life with an optimistic and funny open heart. It helps to be positive and think on the bright side when you’re living in darkness. Especially, when I’m at work and there’s a customer throwing a tantrum like a child. Just remember, it’s only coffee. Don’t bother getting your heart rate and blood pressure up because one customer out of hundreds that are being extra just for their cup of java. This is a lesson learned the hard way in the job force. No matter what, if a client of yours is being rude; just stay calm and act professional and do your job. Don’t let them get to you. It’s not worth it. So true, but it haunts me like a broken record. That particular customer will give me nightmares and ruins the day. But I always get over it.
When I decide to make friends or enter a relationship with someone, I have certain ground rules that must be followed to a tee or else it’s over: I respect you and you respect me. Understand that I suffer from mental illness and if you don’t understand what that is then do some research. I can refer you to some resources on the subject. Communication is a two-way street. There must be no secrets between us. Keep an open (honest) heart and open mind. Accept the fact that some of the people who I cohort with are from different backgrounds. I live my life the way that I want to live it. I didn’t ask for depression, I just inherited it. Don’t tell me how to run my life. I don’t run yours for you. I will not change my appearance for you. I will not dye my hair or change my wardrobe because it makes you feel uncomfortable. And lastly, just be you and nothing more.
I’ve been burned by too many people when then find out about my mental illness. OK, my genetics gave me this. How is this my loss? It’s yours for shaming me. So what if I don’t look like a model and I’m overweight. So many people come in all different sizes. What’s wrong with that? It’s called diversity. I have self-confidence and self-esteem in myself and my body. I don’t care if you think I’m fat. That’s your opinion. Nor will I change my appearance or wardrobe because of you. I wear the clothes that I want to wear out of self-confidence. I don’t wear revealing clothes, but I wear comfy nice clothes. I will not wear makeup because I don’t like makeup. That was fun when I was a teenager and I explored way too much in my makeup kit. I looked like a clown. My hair will always be long because that’s what I prefer. All of this things are what makes me, me! If you don’t like it then, oh well!
I really just ask for your respect and keep an open mind when it comes to mental illness. This subject usually doesn’t come up until sometime in the relationship. And when that comes, that’s when I need you to understand. This is where you put your “listening cap and ears” on and listen to my story. If you think that this is funny, I will say: “Game’s over. Nice to meet you”. Respect, dignity and support is what us sufferers need. We need to trust someone completely before heading to the next step. Sometimes people don’t even make it to this step. Let me put all ignorance and misconceptions aside and let me educate you. If you really listened with an open and clear heart and mind, then you just may have a new friend or lover in your life. You may see the world from a different perspective for the first time with fresh and clear eyes.
I don’t ask for much and my ground rules aren’t that hard to follow, but this is what I expect from you when it comes to relations. Obviously, I’m no spring chicken and I’m unmarried with out children, but do you see me crying over it. No. Again, if it happens, it happens. Drop all of the negativity and look into our eyes and see the battle inside of us.