Tuesday, April 28, 2015
If the word cloud felt a bit like Mad Libs, this prompt trumps. I'm not going to lie - I absolutely used some online "words that begin with...." directories. I love words, but, like with titles and names, I kind of freeze when someone says "give me a word that begins with x (metaphorically) that means y." Let me tell you, H is a toughie. My favorite from the list was "hallooing" but I couldn't manage to make it fit, sadly. Also, I tried not to use words that are actual medical terms - i.e. hypomania would have kind of been a cop-out with two h's here.
H: Habitual. While my condition itself is anything but habitual, being unpredictable as it is, I've had to make my life more habitual. Meals, meds, activities, sleep in a specific amount a specific time, every day, in order to minimize cycling as much as possible.
E: Eye-Opening. This might be a slight cheat, as I'm not sure it's one word. Since being diagnosed, my world has changed. Not only in daily habits, as described above, but in the way I look at the world. I've dedicated myself to learning as much as I can about my condition and mental health. I've become an advocate not only for mood disorders and mental health, but for chronic and invisible illnesses. I've gotten to known so many wonderful people through the mental health support and health activist communities, who I would otherwise have never known. And I've learned to look at myself in a different way, to explore parts of my personality I never knew existed.
A: Assertive. I would say that those who know me would be in two camps here. Those who have seen me in say, a board room or leadership role, will have seen my assertive side. Those who know the side of me who has endlessly bent to others needs because I hate to make anyone unhappy, will raise their eyebrows at this, and I understand both views. But my condition, and particularly being an activist, has helped me to become more assertive (note: not aggressive, assertive). I've learned to speak up for myself, what I want, what I need. I've learned to stand up for my limits and stick to them instead of impossibly trying to make everyone else happy and making myself more ill in the process. It's not easy for me - my natural tendency to be a peacemaker tugs at the edges, but I'm learning.
L: Lifelong. (This is one word, I googled it). My journey with my condition is lifelong. Therefore, I suspect my activist journey will be too. Unless they find a cure for every mental health condition in my lifetime, and I sadly don't see that happening. Nor do I unfortunately see everyone accepting mental illness the way they do other more visible illness. So until that happens, I'll keep advocating for education and awareness, and against stigma.
T: Terrifying. Yep. There are times when my journey is terrifying. Times I wake up and barely recognize myself emotionally and mentally. Times I have a rapid cycle, and later barely recall what happened. There are times society makes it terrifying - like when they talk about making laws that require a therapist to disclose conversations with their patients to the government if they think they might harm themselves. It's terrifying when I hear about people losing their jobs because they had to take time off for their illness - something they'd never be able to do if the person, say, had a heart attack - and despite that it's illegal based on the ADA, they get away with it. And it's also terrifying at times to open up about the most private things about yourself, and have no idea how anyone will react. But it's also these things that fuel me to continue.
H: Humorous. Say what? I know. My journey and my condition certainly aren't funny, and I'm willing to be neither are yours. But let me tell you, if you held a contest between stand up comedians and health activists to see who could make people laugh more, health activists would win hands down. We have to be funny. We struggle every day. We have to take so much of life seriously that we have to lighten up on the rest. We have to be able to laugh at ourselves and our situations sometimes - to somehow find some humor in a situation - because otherwise we'd spend our lives despairing. And it becomes a bit of a self-preservation technique to do so. If I make fun of myself first, if I call myself out first, then it takes the power away from others. It's no fun to call someone a name if they nod and say "yep, damn straight!". It also helps to spread our message as activists. If all we did was lecture, if everything we did was always so serious, it would bring people down. People need to hear the message, but sometimes telling it in a funny way, in a "can you believe what happened to me now" way, or at least with a little quirky/snarky smart-assery, can keep people interested. And so we have to develop a good sense of humor. It's one thing that, no matter what else the doctors do and say, they can't take away from us.