Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mental Health

Every now and again, I worry about developing a mental illness like my father. By his mid to late thirties, he was revealing the seeds which had been planted much earlier, and eventually bloomed into his bi-polar disorder. When I'm under stress I feel more acutely concerned about it. I know these things are hereditary, and I know that if the seeds are buried in me, I will eventually have to manage it, but I hope and pray with each passing year that I will escape this particular legacy.

We all want to be healthy, in our minds and our bodies, and we don't want to be labeled as crazy. We don't want to lose control. Our minds control our decisions, and therefore the quality of our lives. I want to stay in control. I want to own my memories and not lose touch with what I consider some of the best parts of myself.

Having seen my dad go from a broken person who could manage his life to someone who was paranoid, and difficult, and wildly erratic in his moods and behaviours, I know that mental health should never be taken for granted. It is a gift, each and every day that we have it, and is often underappreciated. Getting in touch with my own emotions this year has brought these mental illness fears to the light, but it has also helped me see how much I have to be grateful for.

We have no guarantees in this life. There are illnesses which could lurk inside of us at any time, and then there are the ones that can attack us when we least expect them. I don't want to live my life in fear. I would prefer to believe that God is good, and is near to all of those who call on him, and that he will get me through whatever I will face in this life. Sometimes it's easier to hold that line of faith-reasoning than others.

When I look at my kids, and hug them close to me, I want to be the best version of their mother that I can possibly be. I want to give them all of me: my strengths, weaknesses, vulnerabilities and strengths. I don't want to hide or mask who I am from them, but I also want to be in control of my mind and my feelings. I don't want to be controlled by outside sources like mental illness or fear or worrying about what other people think of me.

I want to live from the inside out. That's what I've been learning to do, and I know it's the way I want to continue to grow. Fake is out and real is in. My fears on this particular subject of mental health will have to take a backseat to faith in God that whatever happens, I will manage it to the best of my ability, and where I can't manage, I will reach out for help.

We don't have to do this life completely on our own. We have God, and support systems of friends and family to be sure we are not abandoned and left to our own devices. None of us would go very far if that was the case. We all need each other, and that gives me comfort when I am worried about what I can't control.

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