Sunday, October 31, 2010

Celebrating a Decade

I suppose it's not entirely abnormal to feel lost and confused in early adulthood. I like to do things to the extreme and so that was how I straddled that space between teen and adult. It was a head spinning, dizzying sort of time. I didn't know who I was and who I wanted to be. I couldn't balance work and school and self discovery. So I took a break. Or I broke. I suppose it depends on your perspective.

It's not a place I like to visit. Sometimes when I remember it still fills me with fears. In fact, I can't even recognize the woman I am today when I think of the scared young adult I was. They say the best way to get rid of the stigma of mental illness is to share your story. Sometimes I want to, but often I don't. Occasionally I'm afraid of what others might think. But stronger than that is the sense of my own frailty which still scares me. Who was I during those years when I danced on the brink? There are lots of bad memories, a few good, and most of them hazy. I'm not ashamed of that time in my life and I'd talk to you about it over coffee. But it does still take a toll on my emotions.

9 years ago yesterday I got serious about changing that. I boarded a plane on Halloween and flew to Ontario. Then I got on a taxi that drove me to a wonderful, albeit scary (the unknown, that is) place. Three and a half months of intense learning and reformatting. Constant encouragement and one amazing friendship gave me the leg up I had been needing. I came home and my strength deepened. My faith returned in a stronger and different form, for it had largely disappeared during that time.

Fast forward till now. Married to a wonderful, understanding and supportive man. Mom of the best little boy ever. It turns out that I love being a Mom! Enjoying my career as the nurse I thought I might never be. Although I worked hard to pull myself back up I can't take credit. Perhaps God had mercy on me. Perhaps I got lucky. Most likely it's a combination of all of the above.

It's not that my life now is without hardship or that I've "arrived". I dip into depression from time to time. I struggle with various thoughts and behaviors. Memories from my past invade my dreams and drive me to anxiety. Sometimes. But now I know my triggers. I'm way more comfortable with who I am. My coping skills are much improved.

Sometimes I wish I knew how to use my life and my story to help other people. That's something I'm still figuring out. But for now I'm living my life, thankful to be where and who I am. Not ever taking it for granted. Realizing that the garbage in my past actually formed me to be better. And stronger.

Still realizing my fragility.


Brenda Funk said...

And don't try too hard to figure it all out, and don't take complete repsonsibility for everything -- there's a whole lot that no one has yet figured out about mental illness -- there's genetics involved, there's brain chemicals involved, there's neuro transmitters misfiring, medications that sometimes seemed to work against you etc etc etc. And why does it happen to one person and not another, why does one get better and not the other?
We are just all so thankful that you got better, and for sure you did the hard work you needed to do to get here from there. And it is all part of the beautiful person you are! Love MOM

K,W,G and D said...

Wow. Beautiful. A survivor well on her way to thriver. I'm working at it, too. (I love the phrase, "from victim to survivor to thriver.") Some days are harder than others. I think one of the best ways we help others is just be living our lives. I know I am helped by having you in my life. Thank you. And thanks for this post.

Anonymous said...

Great post Val....L-lew