I was sitting at dinner with my mother and I was talking about how I needed to change the channel from the feeling sorry for me and poor me streaming stations to a more productive Ways to Rebuild My Life. The thing is I think I switch back and forth between all these channels. I’m simply trying not to listen to the poor me series that continues to play on and on if I let it.
I know I am not the only person out there who has suffered substantial loss at the hands of a mental illness. All you have to do is say the words mental illness and one can assume some type of hardship has occurred or continues to occur. It’s a sickening, cruel illness and there’s nothing anyone can say that will change my mind about it. It steals silently and loudly.
But there comes a point in time where you have to learn how to live with it. I like it that NAMI and other organizations point to the fact that those of us with a mental illness can live healthy and productive lives. It gives me hope that I can live a healthy and productive life. What they don’t say is how hard the journey can be getting from before a mental illness to after and all the potential destructiveness in between. I have seen recovery workbooks that demonstrate somewhat of a blueprint for recovery. They are helpful except where do we turn when the journey gets lonely and painful? What examples do we have to look at when we start down the recovery path and need other people to shine a light for us? Where are the stories of people living with mental illness?
I have been a student of bipolar illness for more than thirty years. I have seen the illness wreck havoc with family members lives and I have lived through the illness taking its’ toll on my own life. I have turned to books and blogs, support groups and any movie I could watch to give me some insight into how to better cope and deal with my own personal journey. All of the information has helped me but at the end of the day I wanted more. I wanted to be able to talk to someone who could set me on the right track. Someone who could give me hope that my future was going to be bright and productive. That somehow and someway I was going to make a difference in someone else’s life in a positive way.
So tonight my dinner conversation occurred. I said, “I need to stop feeling sorry for myself.” My mother replied, “Yes you do. You have so much to be thankful for. Just think about tomorrow being a better day. Look for the good and you’ll find it. Just look for the good Amy.”
As simple as it may seem when someone tells you to look for the good it’s not a bad idea to listen. You can always turn your channel to the feel sorry for me station, except you don’t get very far thinking about the past and what could have been. Where it’s happening is today and the future you can have by learning to cope with “what is.” Learning to be alright living with a mental illness. It’s not easy but it’s worth it.