I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2015 Project (blogformentalhealth.com). I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.
Imagine each morning, you wake up, get out of bed, and begin the routines of your day~ dressing, going to work, running errands,…~ all the while strapped to a boat anchor. You can carry it, you can drag it, you can put it in a wheelbarrow, but you cannot remove it. It is with you ALL the time. You try to get others to help you with it, but they often refuse, saying that it’s YOUR problem, not theirs. They tell you that you should just drop it~ why would you carry that around with you? They frown and say it’s your own fault for tying that thing so tight anyway~ you did it to yourself. They tell you that having a boat anchor tied around your waist is a sign of weakness, and that anyone who has one is just seeking attention or something.
Living with mental illness is like living with an invisible boat anchor tied around your waist. Others don’t see what it takes to cope, to get through a day, to feel good about living with a boat anchor tied around your waist. Sure, there’s tons of research out there. There is help. There are thousands of therapists, counselors, self-help books, groups, and clinics who claim to have treatments. Answers. The Cure. But the fact is that the boat anchor stays firmly in place, and you get to drag it around with you again. And again. And again.
My boat anchor feels heaviest when I’m around other people, especially at work. Work is where my boat anchor came from. Since I work at home, this is a particularly persistent weight. I used to pride myself on being personable and professional, but since I received my boat anchor, I tend to be dodgy and defensive with others. I feel threatened whenever someone comes to me with a complaint. I know in my soul that if I don’t respond to it appropriately, I will become jobless and homeless. Every day drips with the potential that I will say or do something that will bring my life crashing down around me, just like it happened at the Nightmare Place.
I have multiple strategies in place to help me carry that boat anchor. Volunteering, art, spiritual practice, reading, family, pets… these all help remove my focus from the trauma and give me hope that life holds much more healing than harm. But that nefarious Inner Critic (mine is called “the Nicene Council”) insists that these are like using a band-aid to cover a shotgun wound. Well, no one said it was going to be easy…
Mental Health is the goal. Acknowledging that, for all our twisted, tearful resistance to the boat anchor, we are capable of living fulfilling, satisfying lives. Each day is a new opportunity to plot our course in that direction. As part of my course-plotting, I’m re-affirming my commitment to Blog for Mental Health 2015 Project (blogformentalhealth.com). Mental health matters. While my posts may not directly address mental health topics, this blog is a component in my process. From surviving to thriving. Failures and successes. I’m hopeful that if you wrestle with your own boat anchor, you find something that lightens your burden, shares your grief, makes you laugh. You are not alone and neither am I.
Here’s to a year of healing, hope, and happiness.