It has been more than a year since I posted to this blog, my illness decided it was time to shake me up a bit and stop being so complacent about my treatment and how I dealt with my mood swings and medication. It has taken a little more than a year to get myself back to where I am able to live again, but it has been a bumpy ride and one I am ready to share and hope that others can relate to and find hope in.
Lessons in Art Therapy
I had to keep the knot in the wood open and exposed; every part of me wanted to cover it up and hide it. That flaw reflected every part of me and why I was there, covering it up would make it go away, at least that was my theory. However, she was watching me closely, with each piece of tissue paper I placed on the block she made sure I was following her directions.
What was so difficult about putting paper on a block of wood and leaving one spot uncovered?
The closer I came to finish my project the more anxious I became, the more aware of the knot and the way it stood out. Everyone could see the beautiful colors that were blending together; it was a work of art, but turn it over, and there it was – my illness staring them in the face. That’s when it hit me, by leaving that small piece exposed I was allowing the world to see my secret, I was granting them permission into my very private battle, and it was not OK.
The media had already painted a picture of who I was, supposedly, and I did not believe I had the strength to change their minds. The piece of wood sat on my desk for a few weeks reminding me of what everyone would no know, but each I looked at it became more and more clear to me that what I was hiding was ME!
Mental illness has always been the illness no one talks about, the one that is skirted around and whispered in the darkness. Admittance all too often brings loneliness, loss of a job, friends and freedom to be who you truly are. THAT is what I learned, I could no longer hide behind the façade, I had to live. The media has the power to convince people that something is very bad, but it also has the power to change people’s minds about at topic and with the piece of wood on my desk, I decided it was time to stop hiding, to stop running and start fighting back. I realized that more often than not unless you tell someone they may not know that you have a mental illness, and you are hiding for nothing; they already accept you and if they are a true friend, they will continue to see who you really are even after the reveal.
It is my hope now that I am able to help others see that the knot they are hiding is not something to be ashamed of, but something to embrace. These illnesses are not easy; they take our life to places we would rather not go, but together we can fight and each day is another opportunity to show the world that mental illness is not a bad word, is not scary, and we are not monsters.