“It is our truth that will set us free”~Candace
Before I begin I would like to thank Orange walls for this opportunity. Guest posting is a great way to become integrated into the community.
Hello y’all! I am Candace from notyouraveragechick.com and today I’ve journeyed here to share with you my story. My truth.
We all have different journeys yet our paths will eventually cross. Like today, for instance, I am sharing my story of living with mental illness to an established audience within the mental health community. Whether you are searching for answers or someone to relate to we all ended up here on the same path. For this very reason, it is obvious how sharing our story can be so powerful and inspiring.
Let’s note while different we share a common denominator, mental health. It is my truth that I have been diagnosed with bipolar 1, anxiety and mild OCD, whatever mild means. My symptoms will not fit exactly yours but if you can notice the similarities, perhaps what worked for me may work for you. I strongly believe in altering suggestions to what best suits you and your needs. My story does include that of medication because it works for me chemically. Such is not the case for everyone. I do not advocate for medication nor do I push my opinions on the subject. But for me, I rely on it.
A brief screenshot of my story includes alcohol abuse, mania, severe depression, suicidal ideation, obsessive thoughts, rebellious behavior and a history of anger that can only be contributed to my symptoms of bipolar. It isn’t uncommon for a drug abuser, which I have been, to develop a mental illness but it can also be the underlined reason one begins to use. It’s like the question,” Which came first the egg or the chicken”? In my case, I have shown signs of bipolar from a very young age. It is traceable in my choices, actions and most directly related to my behavior. This isn’t a ploy that I am convincing myself of, it is how I have come to an understanding and a place of acceptance.
I can recall being different as a child and being called weird. My Ma calmed my worries by telling me, “different is not weird”. I can agree that I am special but aren’t we all??
The evidence would take a book to lay it out for others but my mental illness was existent prior to my drug use.
At a young age, not because of peer pressure, I was drawn to toxic behaviors. Ones that would ultimately destroy who I know as a person, revealing a completely different character. A kind-loving, patient, respectful young girl. The girl who I tried to drown.
These days I am being accepted for my uniqueness because I realized I have a choice with who I choose to allow in my immediate circle. This leads me into how sharing our story is important.
Sharing our story
When I began sharing my story of living with mental illness a whole new world would open up. I have gained clarity, patience for myself and others, and compassion. These are characteristics I had not held until I opened up about my struggles.
I have been embraced and most importantly, people relate to my symptoms. They can find themselves in my story. It seems I were gifted with words allowing me to write what I feel. This isn’t always the case. It is difficult to put words to feelings especially when you don’t have the word that aptly describes it but I dig and dig deep to find anything that can come close to explaining the thoughts attached to the feelings.
My world is a little less lonely. Days aren’t as bleak as they once were and if I need to talk, I know there is a community of people who would drop what they are doing, to listen. That is a feeling that is rare. It’s because I shared my story.
In addiction recovery I was taught that when you do for others it releases your stress and makes you feel good about doing so, expecting nothing in return. That is how I look at sharing my story. No, not everyone will relate but if it helps one person, I feel good for having shared. I cannot lie and say that it is easy because it is anything but easy. Trying to define what goes on in my head is a challenge. It seems I am most capable of explaining my depressive episodes. I feel guilty when I am happy and I think that blocks my thought process and frankly, I don’t know how to be just happy. It feels weird. Happy = mania, for me.
When we share our story it is like holding our hand out and helping someone else up. It forms a bond. One that is special. Our story is the glue. The glue that is binding our community and what a powerful community we are forming. An amazing one at that! I hope by reading this you too become inspired to share your story. I encourage you to do so. It will not only help you accept your diagnosis, but it will also help another soul who is struggling, feeling alone and maybe even suicidal.
Time isn’t on our side and the importance of shattering the stigma is increasing daily. Your story matters. You matter.