Monday, 20 April 2015

Should I or Shouldn't I?

Should I or shouldn’t I?

I realize for the first time that I have spent the better part of my career (25+ years) trying to hide my disorder instead of trying to advance my career.

Let’s face it, that many years ago, if I did try to talk about it, the subject was either too uncomfortable for others or I was too embarrassed to bring it up. I looked for excuses to cover up any behaviour that could now be attributed to my disorder when I probably should have thought about healthier ways to cope.

As a young adult, I self-medicated. Not gonna lie, it was a method I grew accustomed too and relied on for way too many years. I could kick myself sometimes, and then I try to switch my thinking back to being positive. I didn’t know then what I know now. It’s a simple explanation, but difficult to process nonetheless.

As an adult who lives with a mental illness diagnosis, it’s hard sometimes to forget about it. It’s there and depending on who you are talking to or working for, there’s always, always trepidation about how much to share and when to share it.

I don’t hide it anymore, but I sure don’t wear a sandwich board announcing my condition to passersby. It used to be shame that kept my mouth closed, now it’s more careful thought given before opening my mouth. I’ll do it, I just try to gauge my circumstances as thoroughly as I can before I do.

I ask myself a couple of key questions (knowing that I may not get the honest answer, but I accept that).

Why am I disclosing? Does it benefit my situation and does it make sense for the other person to know? Will my disclosure bring about common understanding that can be useful? Do I trust the other person to at least try to process and understand?

There are probably a slew of others, but those are some key ones that I keep in mind.

I am an advocate for mental health awareness and so I’m obviously not shy about talking about my disorder (after all, the internet is kind of a public forum), but not everyone is going to read my blog and not everyone will be interested in hearing my particular story.

The whole point of my work around eradicating stigma (wouldn’t that be wonderful?) is to at minimum start the conversation toward understanding. A person with mental illness shouldn’t have to prove to anyone how sick they actually are or how little/much they can handle. Conversely those suffering with a disorder such as mine, should not force others to be compassionate and make demands that we may not have the right to make. People understand or they won’t.

I will keep at it as long as I can to spread the positive word around coping with mental illness. By god, it can be done.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Birthdays and Prom Dates

I discovered something while celebrating my 47th birthday this past weekend. Having a non-milestone birthday is like going to prom with someone who is just  a friend.

You know what I mean, right? Having a birthday, any birthday is really nice. Don’t get me wrong, it’s just the fanfare isn’t there like it is when you turn 21, 30 or the big 4-0. People acknowledge on your facebook wall and you receive some cards, but it’s more like…”hey, it’s your birthday..yay”. As opposed to the parties and hoopla that often surround a milestone.

I am not complaining, far from it. It’s just an observation. It makes me think of my grade 12 prom when I went with a friend. I feel terrible because we had a great time, but his name escapes me. He didn’t have a girlfriend, I didn’t have a boyfriend, so we went together. Kind of a “hey, it’s your prom…yay.”

None of the fireworks or romance, just a nice time. I had someone to hold my hair back when I puked and he got to walk in with a hot babe. Not necessarily in that order.

Strangely as I sit here writing this, I realize I feel much the same at 47 as I did at 17. I’m sure I’ve matured. I know I’ve made some adult decisions along the way. Heck, I’ve been married more than once and I have a teenager. Still, I enjoy much of the things about life that I enjoyed at 17.

That’s part of the beauty of having a birthday, any birthday. Even on those “off” milestone years, you get the opportunity to reflect on your life and your place in the world. Memories pleasant and otherwise bubble to the service and you see just how far you’ve come.

I look in the mirror and still see the kid I used to be. I see the person who has withstood a lot of adversity and can still laugh every single day. That’s a gift. Every day you wake up alive is a gift whether it’s a milestone year or not.

I look in the mirror and I realize that I wear 47 well. Yay.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

The Anxious Person's Worst Nightmare Day

I have restrained myself for an almost full 24 hours waiting for April Fool’s Day to pass. Or as I like to call it, The Anxious Person’s Worst Nightmare Day.

Seriously, I cannot ever remember a time in my life when I wasn’t beside myself with worry that I would be pranked on April Fool’s Day. When you already wake up each and every morning assuming life will prank you in some way, imagine the terror when there is an actual day dedicated to and sanctioned for pranking.

I shudder just thinking about it. Not only do I think April Fool’s Day is just plain mean at the best of times, it just adds another thing for me to worry about on an already long list. I simply haven’t got the time to layer on more anxiety about the unknown. The fact that April Fool’s Day even exists is enough to put me on edge.

And another thing, April Fool’s Day is for comedy amateurs anyway. If a prank isn’t just plain mean, it’s usually just really stupid and lame. Ok. Ok. I’m sure all of you have either crafted a brilliant prank and pulled it off or been the recipient of a clever stunt, but I think those are a rarity. Making people look stupid (and worse, feel stupid) is not my idea of a good time. Again, I have enough trouble not making myself look stupid on a daily basis! I don’t need the assistance, believe me.

My family knows that it is not in their best interest to prank me on April Fool’s Day. I am not, repeat not, a good sport in any way shape or form. I become angry and vindictive and things are thrown. It is not pretty and it usually ends in tears. My boys know to leave me out of the shenanigans and I thank them for it.

Trust me, this stand against April Fool’s Day isn’t about me not enjoying a good laugh. But that’s just the point, I enjoy a good laugh. Saran wrapping the toilet seat, setting an alarm clock an hour early, telling your spouse you are having an affair with their sister…not funny!

So, as I begin to relax and unwind a little, I plan on enjoying today and then ramping up my additional anxiety anticipating next year.