Forgiven

As I sit here this evening, once again reflecting on life, I realized that I finally feel like I am at the point in my life where I believe that I have forgiven myself. For most of my life, I carried around guilt and shame, decreasing my own worthiness. I succumbed to the idealization that I was a horrible person and had wronged so many in my life. I accepted blame that was not mine to own and I heaped loathing upon myself for wrongs I never did.

Getting to this point in my journey has not come easily and not without its setbacks. For the last twelve years I have struggled to push myself forward, despite the many times I felt myself stumble backwards. I had the idea that my recovery would be like a continuous linear increase as I moved from despair to any sort of peace. Much to my dismay, I would find myself making huge strides after attending whatever therapy program I could, but then experience a relapse in my depressive symptoms. In those times, I became despondent and suicidal and the self-loathing returned with a vengeance.

I’m grateful that I’ve had a number of consecutive months without experiencing any serious suicidal ideation. By serious I mean the thoughts that are accompanied by a plan. I don’t know that I will ever stop having the thoughts, but at least the planning has eased up. When I find myself considering what action I would take, that’s my cue to get into my psychiatrist immediately. I accept that I will have to remain ever-vigilant in my life long battle with depression, but I also accept that I can relish in the times that the clouds lift. It’s those times when I replenish my soul and build strength for the next episode.

Forgiveness begins with myself.

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Master of My Path

I’m not sure if I’m embracing this idea because I’ve matured and as a woman in my mid-forties, I honestly believe that what others think isn’t nearly as important to me as what I think, or if I’m far enough along in my mental health journey to finally understand this. I think it’s likely a combination of both but whatever the reason, it is incredible!

Like most women, I started worrying about fitting in around the age of 10. For me, that was when my body started to change and adolescence began. I always felt like I was too fat, or ugly compared to the girls around me. I hated the feeling of always wanting to be something I wasn’t and I spent the next 30 years trying to do that. First, I wanted to be the cool girl in school. And then the hip beautiful young woman in my early twenties. When babies came along, I wanted to be the perfect mom. I needed to be the best employee. The problem was, I didn’t know how to be me.

After enduring a psychotic break at age 32, I began a journey to recovery that has involved multiple hospitalizations and countless hours of therapy. When I broke, I shattered all of my facades, and had to build myself back up. But I learned along the way that it was important to build myself the way I wanted to be.

It hasn’t been easy and I have had setbacks along the way, but today I am more self-confident and accepting of myself for the person I am right now. I don’t need the opinion of others to justify my existence, just as they don’t need mine. I don’t need the approval like I used to – the only one who needs to approve of my choices is me.

I know that I will continue to accept myself for who I am and set goals that are important to me for change. I am the master of my path.

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Towards Recovery

It’s been so long since I wrote something that I have forgotten where I was …..so much has changed in the last year as I work towards achieving a recovery for myself. For so long, I wished that I could back to who I was before my psychotic break and I spent a lot of time trying to do so. It’s only been the last year that I have accepted that I don’t want to be that person. I want to be who I’m happiest being.

I returned to work after a two year hiatus, but instead of returning to my former employer, I made the decision and took a huge leap of faith to start with a new employer. Gone was my safety net of accessing disability if I needed it and I have to admit I was shitting my pants – convinced that I would not be able to handle working full time. But to my surprise, not only am I handling it, I’m kicking it’s ass!

I have also been successful at maintaining stronger personal boundaries for myself. I’ve learned to put myself first and in doing so, I have more to offer others. The relationships that I do have are getting stronger and I don’t feel the need to hide behind a mask anymore. If I’m experiencing anxiety or depression, I let people know that and I take the time I need to get through it. I’ve stopped telling myself that I need to be everything for everyone because that’s where I believed my self worth came from. I need to everything for me.

Physically, I am facing some new challenges, after neglecting my health for so many years as I struggled to survive mental illness. People don’t understand how much of a toll it takes on us – emotionally, spiritually and physically. Not to mention financially! I am however focused on improving my physical well-being as I continue to strive towards a place of wellness that I deserve.

I am proud of the hard work and dedication that I put in over the years. Countless hours of therapy, a few hospitalizations and a desire to achieve stability. I will never say that I beat mental illness, because I’m well aware that it’s a lifelong battle, but I will say that it hasn’t beaten me yet.

Love and light,

Wendy

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I’m in the process of trying to discover myself. For most of my life, I pushed aside my interests and views in order to try and fit in with the “rest of the world”, whatever that meant. In doing that, I lost sight of who I am, or could be. 

I intend to spend the next few months getting to know myself better. Letting out the real me, flaws and all and not caring if others like it or not. I’ve come to a point in my life where I no longer need the approval of others to find happiness. The only person whose approval I need is my own. 

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Getting “Better” 


I sometimes question if I’ll ever get better and it’s in those times that my brain tries to convince me that, “no, I won’t”. The last 12 years have been a constant battle to get on the right side of feeling better and it’s been exhausting. My emotions go from feeling exhilarated during the times when I’m “succeeding” and almost feel like I’ve got a handle on things, to feeling absolutely dejected because of yet another setback. I judge myself most harshly for not being able to “get better” and the self-shaming game is huge. Despite my logically knowing that relapses happen during recovery, I blame myself every time one happens because I’m not good enough at recovery. 

I’ve spent my life wanting to be good enough. To be a good enough daughter, mother, sister, friend, wife and employee. The only area that I ever felt like I was almost good enough was in my career and that has been taken away from me – due to my mental illness, it has been difficult for me to return to full-time employment for a sustained period of time. This has cost me much needed knowledge to remain competitive in my field so I have been stagnant. 

Getting better IS hard. And what is “better”? Perhaps I should be looking at it from the perspective that it’s not necessarily “better” that I hope to achieve – it’s “different”. Maybe then I can stop the shaming that comes with not being “better”, because that insinuates that how I am right now is ok. And even though I’m different now, that’s not a bad thing. I’m going to work on accepting that how I am in this moment is good enough. I will continue to evolve into something different and stop labelling each step in my journey as worse or better. It just is. 

I don’t know where I will end up tomorrow – I’m just going to do my best to live in today. 

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Today is day one. 

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Working To Find Hope 

Depression, anxiety, PTSD and BPD are my present diagnoses with regards to my mental health. I first became aware of my mental illness at age 32, twelve long years ago. I know I’ve been living with it for most of my life, but I didn’t know I was unwell. My life was chaotic and volatile, but I just believed everyone lived that way. After experiencing a life-changing psychotic break, I began the long and arduous journey to continuously search for hope and peace. Here I am, age 44 and I’m still looking. 

I’ve done so much work over the last twelve years and believe that the many programs, therapies and support groups I attended expanded my knowledge about myself and my illness and is truly what’s kept me alive for this long. Cognitive behavioural therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy, in-hospital treatment, support groups, individual therapy, and time with my psychiatrist have consumed my life since the breakdown. And with each new endeavour was the hope that this would be the one that would make the feelings of emptiness, loneliness and sadness go away for good. 

And sometimes, the feelings went away. But they always came back. And each time they return, my carefully reconstructed world starts to fall apart. The steps I’ve made forward start to become the steps that make me falter and go backwards. I feel a sense of helplessness as they overwhelm me with their intensity. And the confusion sets in and my mind starts to slip into despair. 

I have almost a surreal way of watching what’s happening to me, as if I’m an observer of my life, rather than a participant. I can see myself withdrawing, isolating and becoming the shell of the person I want to be. I’m screaming inside for someone to save me, yet my mind knows that the only one who can save me is myself. And yet, it’s my own mind that is preventing me from doing it. 

When you have a mental illness, you spend a lot of time in your mind, desperately trying to make sense of what’s happening. For me, it’s frustrating and heartbreaking to make huge strides in my recovery, only to discover that the illness pushes me back. It’s like trying to constantly fight the fierce current in a river, walking upstream. It’s exhausting. 

Sometimes, it just feels really good to let go of the fight and fall into the current and let myself be swept away, no longer in charge of my destiny, instead leaving it to fate. I’m scared that one day I will choose to not stand up and resume my walk upstream and I’ll be lost forever. That I’ll take too much comfort in letting myself drift aimlessly. And when I find myself thinking this way, I’m overwhelmed with sadness as I imagine my life being this way. 

I don’t choose to live this way. Nothing would make me happier than to find peace and stability, combined with a passion for life. But for so long, my hopes are raised with each time I move forward in my recovery, only to have them dashed when relapse rears its ugly head. The relapses weaken my resolve to keep going. 

Hope is all that I have left. Hope that I will find the strength to carry on and keep fighting. Hope that one day, something will work on a more permanent basis. And now, the real work begins again. 

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