I cannot tell you how much sharing has helped me along my journey. That is, once I decided to share. I chose this platform as I find writing easier than sharing in person (that's not to say I won't talk to people, I just find I am better able to articulate myself in writing).
It cannot be stated enough, you are not alone in your struggles; because of this, I wanted to share stories other than mine. Thank you to my coworker Courtney for being vulnerable and open to sharing.
How has your mental illness affected your relationships (i.e. with friends, family, significant others, etc.)
Since being diagnosed with depressive bi-polar disorder and high anxiety, I notice that sometimes relationships with everyone around me are more strained. I find myself pushing people away when things get tough and almost self-sabotaging relationships. Luckily, I have met someone who realizes when I do this and doesn’t allow me to push him away. However, friends and family are a bit different. I think it’s tough for people to understand something they cannot relate to. It takes a lot of patience to deal with someone like me sometimes, with this illness. I’m glad for the people I have in my life and don’t judge me for having days or weeks, or even months where I really don’t speak to anyone, and know that it’s nothing personal. It’s the disease and sometimes you just need space to work it out.
Overall my illness has changed relationships with my family and friends, some days our relationships are strained and other days things are great. I don’t always feel like I have a support system though because I don’t feel as though many people I know understand what I’m dealing with and how my mind works, and sometimes I just don’t trust to tell them what’s going on in my life for fear of being judged or being gossiped about, which would in turn, make my mood much worse and likely cause a breakdown.
What is one thing you would tell your younger self?
Don’t be afraid to talk to someone and get help. Trust someone and find a support system, it’s okay to need help.
How has your mental illness shaped your life to date?
I am a lot more self-aware of my actions and of the way I think. I find myself wondering why I’m thinking a certain way or why I am allowing myself to dwell on something that happened years ago and everyone has likely forgotten about. I feel like my understanding of others has also changed and I find myself being more sympathetic to those who have mental illness such as myself. I grew up not feeling like I could talk about these things and knowing that it’s changed so much in society now helps. I am not afraid to speak up, I am not afraid to tell my story, I am not afraid to get help.
What do you look forward to?
I am not sure what I look forward to right now. I am still taking things day by day. I do think I look forward to the day when I wake up and things feel a little bit easier and I worry less.
Two Thousand and Eighteen was about #selfcompassion and #lovingkindess. The very idea came from a gift I received last Christmas, “Breaking Free Day by Day” - by Beth Moore. I was stuck and so desperate to free myself from the pit I was in. I am still in awe of the changes I have seen this past year. (See my #breakfreeproject by visiting www.mavisdzaka.com/writing-projects).
I hope to continue on the same path in 2019. But rather than weekly posts, over the next couple of months I will answer the following questions (and hope to have others join me in the conversation):
- How has your mental health affected your relationships (i.e. with friends, family, significant others, etc.)?
- What is one thing you would tell your younger self?
- How has your mental illness shaped your life to date?
- What do you look forward to?
In doing so, I hope you too will reflect on your own experience. It is my hope, also, that by sharing you will know you are not alone, you are worthy, and that you are loved. I needed these words oh so many years ago. I didn’t get them or if I did I wasn’t listening. God showed up in my life. He was there in friends and family and he spoke through them.
I want to remove the shame we sometimes feel. I want to remove the self-doubt and even self-hatred. To me this is a bit of an exercise in vulnerability. I stand here open to what 2019 has to offer.
Today, I look forward to building upon the foundation I have created for myself, building upon relationships started in 2018, and curating a space where people feel they can be open to share no matter where they are in their journey.
All my love to you,
Today: Like most, I'm trying to figure things out. Sometimes that's day by day, moment by moment, and even breath by breath.