It's been a long journey. There were times, not so long ago, I might add, that I would change everything for people. A friend would get upset at a trait and I'd rush around apologizing and trying to change it. Or I'd see everyone was acting one way and think "wtf is wrong with me?" Or a significant other would criticize me during a fight and I'd move heaven and earth to become who they wanted me to be. Now, I've made great strides. And I have learned that there are some things that people who are part of my personal life (in any capacity) are going to have to deal with.
- I have a lifelong mood cycling condition that won't go away. Period. I have ups, I have downs, I have
normal"normal is boring, but I'm not up or down". I don't want people in my life who only want to deal with the best times. And if you ever tell me you wish I was normal, you'll likely find my abnormal foot in your ass. And don't ask me "why?". I just told you why. If you had cancer and said you were in pain, and I replied, "Again? What is it this time?", I'd be an insensitive a--hole. Same holds true here.
- I'm on medication and I go to therapy and I'm not afraid to be open about it. It routinely happens that friends ask me "what are you up to tonight" and I say "therapy appointment." Or I realize it's time to take meds and open up the bottles in the middle of lunch. You're embarrassed/uncomfortable? Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize that my medical condition was about you. Please forgive me.
- I'm loud and talkative. That's it. You don't like my energy, don't be around me. But DO NOT shush me or tell me to be quiet or any form of this. Not if you value your head.
- I'm a planner. This doesn't mean I can't be spontaneous, but I don't love to be up in the air. Which means I don't like indecisiveness and maybes if it's going to affect my entire day/week/month, unless absolutely necessary. Understand, there's enough uncertainty inside my brain. I need something that I can count on.
- I don't always want to be around you, or anyone, especially in a social setting. I need downtime. I work with people all day long. I actually have to ask for coverage to go to the bathroom so that there's someone at the desk. And I don't mind this at all. But sometimes, when I'm not at work, I want to be able to use the bathroom without announcing it. And when I'm in a depressive cycle, I don't want to have to pretend 24/7 that I'm not. Nor do I want to be a downer around you. So please, let me have my "me time" without criticism.
- I do not think like you or see the world like you do. This must, must be ok, accepted, respected. I see the world through an emotional lens, through the lens of ups and downs, through my heart, through a mind that stretches to creative places that you may think are "crazy" (I write short stories and books in my head, people). What you may think of as normal isn't to me. And what I think of normal isn't to you. I live my life according to love and passion, not according to money or societal standards. There's no script for living. Moral and legal obligations aside perhaps, thinking your way is right and mine is wrong is patronizing and narrow-minded. It says much more about you than it does about me.
- I live life the way I want my eulogy to read. Well, there's a happy thought for you! But seriously, it's true. If it's a wonderful day outside, I want to spend time hiking with a friend, or dining al fresco, or sitting on the deck in my lounge chair reading a book, not cleaning the house. Because I'll be damned if the last thing people to say about me is "her house was impeccably clean." Life is meant to be lived. We all live it our own way. It's not better, or worse. It's just different.
- I cry a lot. Happy, sad, overwhelmed, because it's a beautiful day, because I'm nostalgic. Because my depression is making me cry and I'm not sure why. It's cleansing to me. Try it sometime.
- Remember in school when you used to take mental health days? Yeah, I still need them. Not from work, because I'm too dedicated to that, but from other responsibilities that can wait (see bullet points above). It's not laziness. It's taking care of my health.