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Growing with Mental Illness

Some days I get so overwhelmed with grief that I cant breathe.

Grief for what I've lost, for what I've missed.

Grief for the things I can never have.

I feel like I'm two people.

One who is capable and driven and could change the world given some time. And another who keeps her locked up in a cage of mental illness unable to complete daily activities the way a typical individual will.

A big part of my therapy and healing has been acceptance. Accepting that my mental health is something I cannot change, accepting that in time I will learn to manage it but that it will never go away.

And that started with talking about it.

For so long I suppressed it. It seemed like the world would end if anyone found out that I was struggling. But opening up I found so much support and understanding and it gave me the opportunity to connect with people who also struggle.

When I'm doing well it makes me happy to know I can help other people through my own experiences. But then I get overwhelmed with grief and rage. And I have no where to direct it. I have no one to blame for my mental illness. It just is. Which i really struggle with. How do I deal with these overwhelming emotions if I have nowhere to direct them. I'm a big believer in talking things out if there's a problem that you think can be solved. Keeping things quiet just makes it worse. But who do I talk this out with? Myself? Because it's all internal. There is no direct cause for my mental illness. There is no moment that I can identify that started it all. It was a gradual process. One that I didn't even recognise until I was much older. I don't want to take things out on myself anymore. I've learnt that that accomplishes nothing. Most of the time I am comfortable with what is. But sometimes I just can't do it. I want to know why me and I want to know how to fix it. I want a magic pill. But it doesn't work that way. And logically I know that. So I get stuck in this cycle of helplessness.

I wrote this before having my first baby. My mental health was at an all time low and I

couldn't imagine it improving. It's still very valid.

However, since having kids my mental health has been the best I can remember. Whether from hormones, or medication, or regular therapy, I have no idea. But at the moment I have more good days than bad. Unfortunately, this makes me terrified of the bad days. Because I remember what it's like for every day to be a bad day. I'm trying to learn to not let this stop me. So far there's always been a tomorrow. And generally, tomorrow brings something different. Not always better, but always different. Particularly with two kids. There's always a new challenge, a new reason to smile, a new reason to cry. Maybe it's because I don't have time to dwell on it anymore, but the acceptance of what is is there now. It's part of me. I still have days where I grieve what I've missed, but now I can also see all the things that I've had despite it all.

One day I hope to put my journey on paper, turn it into art. But I'm not there yet. It still lives in a little box in my mind, growing dust as my life grows around it. I know I need to open the box, but today is not that day.

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