Monday, November 28, 2016

Challenges and Little Victories

HAWMC Day 28: 5 Challenges & 5 Small Victories. Make a list of the 5 most difficult parts of your health focus. Make another top 5 list for the little, good things (small victories) that keep you going.

Challenges and small victories are what being an HA is all about. The challenges force me to look at my advocacy work, my condition, and myself in a new light, and the victories, well they're part of what gets me out of bed in the morning. So here we go. 

  • The stigma.  This, to me, is both the biggest challenge, and one of the most important reasons I advocate. Over time, I've developed more of "deal with it or don't be around me" attitude towards the stigma, but it's still always there. Naturally, I care less about what people I don't know think of me, and I feel that my friends aren't real friends if they stigmatize me because of my illness. But it's those in positions of "power" that have caused concerns at times - those at work, in professional organizations (I've sat on several boards), clients, potential clients. I say "power" because if they decide to stigmatize, it could really cause a problem in my career. It's much more difficult to say "well I'm better off without them" if it's someone who can directly affect your livelihood. 
  • Offering insight into my cycles without completely confusing or concerning my reader. I often write best when I'm battling anxiety, depression, or hypomania. It helps me give a "first hand" account of what it's like, in the moment. But I also have to balance that with not writing when I'm all over the place, can't focus, can't think clearly, or when I'm so low that things I say could concern my reader. 
  • Not blogging/tweeting/posting every thought that ever comes into my head. Writing is my escape, especially in the midst of a tough mood cycle. It helps me get my thoughts out of my muddled head, which helps to ease the constant tug of war in my brain. But I have to force myself to pause and take some time before hitting publish. Because I try to understand that even if it seems urgent to me in this moment, that may not be the case, and it may do best to let it sit, re-read, revise as necessary. Especially when angry. 
  • The constant advice. I know many people have the best of intentions. But I'm battling a serious medical condition, and it can't be "fixed" by taking deep breaths, meditating, praying, focusing on the positive, etc. Can those things help? Possibly. (Though, I'll step out on the praying bit personally, as my status with religion is shaky at best). But they aren't going to cure me. Thinking positively isn't going to make my depression go away, just like it wouldn't make someone's cancer or heart disease go away.  Because trust me, if it could, I would have done these long ago. 
  • The topic of medication.  This is a bit tied to the above. People often think I can just will myself better. Let me tell you something: I cannot.  Period. Trust me, I've tried. I've tried everything I can that didn't involve medications. And I was no better. My medication is live saving.  Yet so often I have to battle the "You're a pawn of the pharma industry. Your Dr. isn't helping you they just want you to need them more" people. And maybe they've managed to help their condition without meds. I'm super happy for them, seriously. Because meds suck. But the don't suck more than they help. They are not me, and therefore they don't know what's best for me. These people anger me SO much. I don't do well with people who think they know my body and my brain better than me. The stigma of medication is a whole other animal from the stigma of the disorder itself. 
Little Victories:
  • Every person who comments, messages me, or contacts me in some other way to let me know that my efforts have helped them. 
  • My spoonie community. You guys are my life line at times. Literally. 
  • Completing the Overnight Walk three years and counting. These are some of the most amazing experiences of my life. Hearing people's stories, meeting others who have battled themselves or who have lost loved ones to suicide makes me fight that much harder to help those who need it. 
  • Getting nominated for a WEGO Health Activist Award. Thanks, guys! I didn't win, but hey, there's always other years. The nomination itself means so much. 
  • Opportunities to guest blog, host twitter chats, and share my experiences in other ways on other platforms than my own blog. Working together is key to me, and the opportunity to do so with fellow HAs is awesome! 

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