Showing posts with label bipolar disorder. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bipolar disorder. Show all posts


I Love My Mental Illnesses

I can't tell you how many times I've gotten furious about having mental illnesses. I've raged at God for giving me this trial. Everyone kept telling me "Hold on! It gets better!" But it didn't. "Three years. Three freaking years." I have thought to myself as I've contemplated how long it's been since I came home from my mission and faced this trial. Three years of pain. Three years of feeling lost. Three years of being filled with anger. 

I've often thought about who I would be and where I would be at in my life if I hadn't gotten sick. Would I be graduated from college by now? Would I have been married by now, with a baby on the way? Would I be happier, kinder, more loving? I thought I would be. Thinking about these things has made me disappointed in myself.

However, very recently I have started to love my mental illnesses. I have come to love these last three years of hurt. But why?

I love my mental illnesses because of the empowerment they bring to me. Embracing them has given me the strength I need to push through other challenges in my life. It has given me purpose as I try to reach out to those around me who have similar struggles. Accepting and loving my mental illnesses has taught me that I am stronger than I think, and experienced in areas that others might not be. I have an amazing life in ways because I have mental illnesses. I am capable. I am tough. I am becoming who I need to be because of them, and I love it.

I think those of us who struggle with  mental illnesses could all probably be better at being thankful for our trials. I'm definitely still working on it. Yes, having a mental illness is more challenging than most could understand. It is draining. It is painful. And sometimes, it is deadly. But in some odd way, mental illnesses are a blessing. You might disagree with me, and I can understand where you're coming from. But I also understand that mental illnesses can help us grow in ways that nothing else could. We have the power of empathy because we've been in dark places. We know how to love broken things because we too, have been broken. We know how to be strong, because there are times we've had to pick ourselves up off the ground. We are amazing, and our mental illnesses have helped us become that way. 

Learning to love my mental illnesses is still a process for me, I promise. I'm not perfect at this at all. I still have moments where I am filled with hatred toward the things that cause me so much pain. But I am thankful for my bipolar disorder. I am thankful for my generalized anxiety disorder. I am thankful for what I am learning. I am thankful for who I am becoming. I may not be where I thought I should be, but man, I sure do have an amazing life because of my mental illnesses.


I've Been Robbed

When I was a sophomore in High School, my iPod was stolen. I loved that iPod. It was a replacement gift from my dad, as I had accidentally run my own bright-pink nano through the washer and dryer. I listened to it all the time on the bus and at home. It was  It was my fault, really. I left it in my backpack out in the open in the girl's locker room during gym. I trusted people too much and didn't think that I could ever be robbed in Bountiful, Utah. When I came back from class and saw that it was missing, I started crying. In front of everyone in the locker room. I tried to hold back tears as I walked to file a report with the school officer but I wasn't very successful. When I went home, I cried some more. I felt dumb. I I felt like my privacy had been violated. I was angry because it just wasn't fair.

For me, one of the hardest parts about having a mental illness is feeling robbed. I've felt cheated by God and the universe. I had the perfect plan for my life. Go to school, go on a mission, get married, and start a family. A simple request. A normal life. A safe plan. Obviously, that hasn't happened. I've gotten angry at God so many times for "cheating" me. Granted, my challenges are nothing in comparison to the trials that so many go through. But I have still felt like my mental illness has robbed me not only of my perfect little plan, but of who I am. I'm not who I was before I got sick. I used to be so much more kind and thoughtful. I enjoyed going to parties and being around people. I was more driven in academics and I thrived off of success. But then my mental illness came around and stole those parts of me. Because of this I feel dumb. I feel violated. I feel angry because it just isn't fair.

I never got my iPod back. It was gone for good, and I was pretty peeved about it for awhile. I learned from that experience, though. I started locking things up. The next iPod I got I appreciated so much more. I treated it better and kept it safe. My mental illness does the same thing for me that my stolen iPod did. It teaches me to appreciate the things that I do have and to work hard for the things that I don't. When I am depressed and hopeless, I have to work hard to get back up. When I am happy, I appreciate and enjoy it so much more. Just because I haven't gotten what I thought was rightfully mine doesn't mean that I haven't gotten was I actually need. Without the absence of the things that my mental illness has stolen from me, I wouldn't have grown in the ways that I have. My mental illness has caused voids in my life that were filled by things much more important and meaningful than I could have ever imagined. Getting robbed by my mental illness has been something that has changed my life for good, in ways that I am just now beginning to recognize.

Yes, mental illnesses suck. They steal things from you. They hurt. But there's an upside to it all: you have the experiences that you need to have to become who you need to be. It's just up to you to recognize it and do something about it. 


Church isn't Always For Me

When I started this blog, I had the intention of being open, honest, and forthcoming about my challenges surrounding being and early returned missionary and with having a mental illness. In keeping with that intention, I am going to tell you about a very personal challenge I've had the past two years that has to do with my mental illnesses: 

Church isn't always for me. 

Sometimes, I don't go. And when I say sometimes, in some months it's been more often than not that I don't go. I think you could technically call me  "less active" according to attendance records. 

So what does church going have to do with my mental illness? 

1. Anxiety. I have generalized anxiety disorder and church is a huge trigger for me. For some reason, being around lots of people sets me off. I feel panicky, like something bad is going to happen. I get a tightness in my chest and I feel like I can't breathe. 

2. For awhile, I didn't go to church because I couldn't feel the spirit. Now, that seems counterintuitive and in a way it is. But I got panicky BECAUSE I couldn't feel the spirit because I was depressed. I felt like I was doing something wrong. I would sit in my seat and start getting angry at myself. There was a lot of self-hatred going on in those moments. 

Now here's the deal: I might not always be a consistent church-goer, but I can definitely tell you that I am firm in the gospel.  I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true. I sustain my church leaders. I know the Book of Mormon is true and I believe that Joseph Smith was called of God. I love being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am currently really working on going to church and I am getting better at it. Those who love me have been incredibly understanding and supportive. They know I'm trying my best. 

Because of my mental illnesses, however, I have a different relationship with God than most. Because I can't really hear or feel Him sometimes, things get tough. Because of my anxiety and bipolar disorder, going to church isn't always an option. I'm not healthy enough to be there. But you know what? I think God understands that. I think He knows that I would be there if I could be. I think He recognizes all the things I DO do in spite of what I don't do.  I think He expects me to try my best, and that my best doesn't always include going to church.