Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Up until recently, my experience with mental illness was exactly that.  MY experience.  The nine weeks of hospitalizations, the electric shock therapy, the medications, and side effects, were all something I saw from only my perspective.  After hearing an excerpt from "Ben Behind His Voices" by Randy Kaye, I had a very sudden realization, that I am not the only one who went through (and continue to go through) the effects of mental illness.
As I sat and listened to Ms. Kaye's account of her experience, a mother of a son diagnosed in his early adulthood with schizophrenia, I had not even pondered what my own family's experience was like when I made the decision to be hospitalized.  I had never imagined the heartache and frustrations they all must have felt as they watched and listened to me fall apart.  All my friends who saw me slide into this deep hole of depression, I never once considered how helpless each one of them must have felt.  I recognize now, how selfish and twisted this is, and so I want to say how grateful I am to everyone who has stood by me.
When I think back with a more objective view, I see my mother and sister, who sat patiently and lovingly on the other end of the phone, while I sobbed from my hospital bed.   I see my best friends sitting in my hospital room, with looks of confusion and concern tattooing their faces.  I see another sister lovingly holding me as my body began to tremble, and my head began to shake.  I see my father and stepmom, remaining strong and firm while I collapsed in tears of weakness.  I see the weight I placed on everyone's shoulders, begging for them to make decisions for me, wanting them to make it all go away.
When I finally realized I no longer wanted to be miserable, that I wanted a life worth living, all those same people were there.  I became open to hearing the hard things they had to say, and actually started taking them into consideration, and putting them to action.  They stopped coming to all my pity parties, and instead invited me into happiness.   My family and friends were the ones who reminded me I am so much more than  a woman with a head tremor, or a mental illness,  on days when that was all I could think of.
Although I know that, ultimately, it was my own actions that started to change my life, I need to give credit where credit is due:
To all of my parents, who have never once doubted what I was capable of, and never stopped loving me despite walls I have put up.
To my wonderful and unique sisters, who reminded me how to laugh and gave me the gift of the most beautiful nieces and nephews in the world.
To my best friend, who has spent the last 18 years loving me for exactly who I am, and who has helped me rediscover my sense of sarcasm.
To my therapy bitch, who for the past year has accepted me without judgement, and is my cheerleader and confidante.
To my ex, who was strong enough to voice her needs and recognize the toxic emotions I brought to our relationship, but who without hesitation, remained a constant source of support and love.
To all of my "team" in therapy, who have encouraged me to face what is hardest, talk about it, and move on, and who have helped me discover what is most fulfilling for me.
I thank each and everyone of you for putting up with the less than pleasant moments, for listening, and caring enough to help me realize I care about myself too.

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