You see, her daughter has recently been diagnosed with the illness and is having difficulty accepting treatment. Such as blowing off her therapist, resisting medication (while attending appointments and still taking the meds, just met with much resentment). Jordan, the daughter, I have never directly talked to as she is very hesitant to talk to me and has never met or talked to anyone with a mental illness. I have talked to the mother several times who was referred to me through NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness).
The mother like many people I have come across in the past through NAMI see one side of me, the outer exterior which appears that I have it all together. The part of me that has accepted my illness. The side that is not afraid to advocate for myself and others. Yes, I have held steady jobs since my diagnosis, I have maintained a relationship and got married. I volunteered actively with a mental health organization. I graduated college.
As I email this mother with my experiences, and speak to her on the phone I try to remember what got me through those difficult times when I was first diagnosed, what Jordan is going through. I tell her it will get easier with time. That the first step is acceptance. That I came to a realization at some point within that first year. Then I start to wonder. Have I accepted this? I sometimes think to myself, I am just like anyone else just with a slight brain dysfunction. I want to accept that this is who I am, with all my successes and failures.
How many times have I told others in my support groups, public speaking, classes, mentoring, that the diagnosis does not define you? Yet we are expected to live a lifetime of behavior changes, mood swings, medication side effects/changes, days without sleep, lost relationships, etc., all the while maintaining that this is part of our lives and try to move on? I am at a loss right now of what to tell this mother, I want to tell her that it gets easier. Although you learn to live with this to some extent, I have in no sense “recovered” as some people might say. My symptoms despite medications are at times just as terrifying and life altering as they were ten years ago before my diagnosis. It is just that now I am more aware of them.
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