How do I know I AM well?
I know I AM well because I continue to prove it to myself and those who know me.
Today could have gone in many different directions, but instead it went pretty much as expected.
When I woke up this morning I decided to write to my immediate family, so that everyone was aware of what I have been through. I have spoken, at length, about my illness with my mum, as she has mainly been my support for the last 12 months , but on the whole I have remained rather private about what I have been through.
One little piece of advice, based on my own personal experience, is that; if you are concerned about someone, talk to them directly, or better still, make time and spend time with them. Get to know them and get to know what they have been through and how they have learnt to overcome their shortcomings. This insight into their perception of events will not only reassure you that they are doing well, it will give you a huge insight into how and when it may or may not be necessary to provide them with a little support.
People who suffer with mental illness, OCD and addiction can and do feel very isolated and fearful some, most or all of the time. I found it extremely difficult to communicate with others because I did not want others to find out how weak and vulnerable I really was, so I pretend to be strong and independent.
If, as someone offering support, you open up yourself to someone in pain and share your own experience of suffering, it can be a tremendous source of strength and hope for those who are still suffering. This is the basic premiss of all 12 step fellowships, but you don’t have to be a member to simply share your own experience, strength and hope.
At some point or another, each and every one of us is going to have a bad day. Sometime we will have lots of bad days. Sometimes we will have bloody awful days and sometime we will all experience our own version of hell on earth.
It doesn’t matter what you have experienced, all experiences are just as valid as the next persons. A suicidal person can only judge their own emotions against their own experience. So someone whose worst life experience ever was the one time they marked the table cloth with a coffee stain, to them this was an extremely traumatic event. Everything and every experience in life is all relative to the individual that experiences it.
It’s what we learn from the experience and how that helps prepare us for the next experience that is really important.
Everyone has their own coping mechanisms. Not all of them work, but how will I know if they work for me unless I try it for myself.
I have been darkness and fear and I have stood in the abyss of nothingness, alone and without direction. From what I know now, no one could have healed me except me. I had to walk my own path, but it sure did get easier when I started realising that I didn’t have to walk the path all on my own.
Simply knowing that others were there for me and understood what I was going through, because they too had been there, was incredibly powerful.
This is why I know the greatest service I can provide for someone suffering from a mental illness is to simply let them know I am there for them, without judgement.
We all fall, it’s part of life and the greatest of us learn to fail with ease, grace and humility. We choose to fail so that we can learn how to pull ourselves back up again, but when we know that sometimes, when I feel like I am in free-fall, it is good to know that someone, somewhere, can throw me a life line, by simply sharing the fall with me. When there is someone sharing the fall with me, I forget that I am falling just long enough to pull the cord on the parachute and come to a gentle landing.
For me, recovery began and ended when I woke up and realise that I was manifesting my own reality. I thought to myself, oh shit I don’t have a parachute, then I remember I had a phone, so I picked it up and dialled the number of a friend. They were only too happy to jump in with me and lend me their parachute because they had already learnt to fly.
Every new beginning requires that first leap of faith.
Remember, I can survive on my own, but only we can live together.
PS: Today I AM simply grateful to be alive.