Sarah and I have lived in Cochrane for over five years now. We call our place The Asylum because of its obvious double meaning. Fact is, I am bipolar. Combine that with PTSD from a car accident and, well…I can be a little complicated.
Many people suffer from mental afflictions, so I am hardly unique. If you have been diagnosed with one of the delightful descriptions in the DSM-5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) is the 2013 update to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the taxonomic and diagnostic tool published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) then…you likely understand some things.
You understand what it is like to feel peculiar…different from other people. And we can become defined by a label. Does not really matter about the label…any label dehumanizes and sticks to the soul, somehow. If you do not believe in souls, that is fine. You know what I mean.
Part of the problem, I think, is our own acceptance of the labels. I am bipolar. What does that mean? It means a whole host of things, but it does not really describe me. I know a lot of people who share my label. But we remain distinct people with very different goals, etc. We are invisible in so many ways. It is unfortunate, but it is the nature of the beast, I suppose, since most of us with a mental diagnosis keep it to ourselves like an embarrassing scar. Can’t fix it with a couple of memes.
I say all that to say a couple of other things…reflections, if you will, on this matter of mental illness.
Let me state that I am aware I live in an advantaged society. In Canada there is universal healthcare and I have access to doctors and medication not available to people in less advantaged situations. I have seen what happens when people are not on their meds and I cannot imagine getting through a day with out being properly medicated.
Of course, medication does not “fix” me. My meds help me stay mentally stable so I can do the other stuff in life. You know…work, live, laugh, etc. And if you are on medication for a mental illness, you likely know what happens if you do not take your meds. I know I do. Not good. So, in my ramblings, please do not ever think I advise anyone to adjust or stop taking meds. I am a patient, just like you. Not…a…doctor.
I do not know about you, but I need to believe in something greater than myself. Given my ego, that pretty much means God. But your beliefs may differ (probably…I am a little on the weird side). Then try to find a connection outside yourself. With me, it has been nature. I have found I am healthier if I focus on nature around me. There is always something growing or moving.
Taking time to be mindful of nature (that which is greater than us) helps to connect us to the planet, which is where we need to be grounding ourselves. Not a vision of a fluffy cloud someday, but actual connection with where we live.
For me, at least. Ask yourselves how many issues we face as a species on a severely damaged planet. Now ask how many of them could have been averted if we had been more conscious of nature and our immediate environment.
Finally, be kind to yourself. I was going to say, “try to be kind to yourself” but, as Yoda teaches, “There is no try. There is only do or do not.” It is easy to believe the voices that tell us we are damaged or useless, but this is obviously not true. I will not bore you with the long list of people who have had disabilities while contributing greatly to the good of others around them, but I could.
You are here. You are part of the human community, as well as nature, and that makes you indescribably unique and wonderful. Why? Because you are. There is no one exactly like you…even twins are distinct in some aspects. So enjoy what you can and manage the rest as best you can, I say.
I hope to write more. No promises. It is getting into the deeper stages of winter and that means lots of snow and cold. I also have my seed catalogues, so I feel like spring is already right around the corner. I hope your life is manageable.
From one nut to another (even if you don’t have an official certificate),