Talking, thinking and reflecting
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
I had a call last night from a younger peer with mental illness. Some of her questions got me thinking. I remember being 18 and wondering if I would always be mentally ill. If I would always be paranoid and think people were talking about me. Would I hear my name whispered though out my life like it was being carried in the wind? Was all this real or just in my head?
Last night my years of experience were put to the test. I did not want to dash this peer's hopes and dreams. I did not want to tell her it might be like this for the rest of her life. Yes you will have problems at work, home, school...in life. What to say to an impressionable 18 year old?
Your life will be filled with ups and downs; everyone's is to some extent. In order to enjoy the up times, you have to have down times. In order to have joy, you must have sorrow. If for no other reason, than to know the difference. But do you say that to someone that is struggling?? Do you recount the pain you have lived in your life? How you have always wished it had been different? How you wondered...Why am I different than everyone else?? Why do I have these feelings?
I was very careful with my words. I chose not to tell her I was on disability and had been for 5 years. And that this is my second time on disability. I shared some of the experiences I felt she needed to know that were similar to the issues she is going through. Because I sure have them now and have in the past. I shared my childhood insecurities and feeling of differences, even back then. I tried not to overwhelm her. I spoke to her like a peer. Granted I am 30 years older and I would hope, somewhat wiser...I am still a peer. With the same disorder, similar feelings, and similar problems.
I felt good that I could talk to her and let her know she is not alone! I am not alone!! I have good friends, family and peers to help me through my life. I have a home and food in my stomach. I have God in my life.
I feel blessed!