When i began this blog, I did it as a dare. I took the dare and it was to be completely open and free – to not hide behind a single mask. I took the dare from God. I heard it as clearly as someone might hear a voice from across the room… but it was that inner voice you cant ignore, and one I knew wasn’t ME talking. I was not in any mood to tell anyone my truth and reality. It had to be God because I was in a place of imprisonment, and only truth would set me free.
Over these many years, I ditched my masks one by one till only one remained. It’s not like I had huge things hiding in my life… but I’ve always been afraid of what people would think if they just saw ME. I was shocked. People prefer truth when so often it seems they want to hear the lies. People are hungry for just blunt and frank realness.
Still I couldn’t ditch that last one, no matter how hard I tried. I justified it was for the privacy of my daughter. I didn’t feel it was my mask to shed. I was wrong. How could she ever shed hers if I never had the guts to shed mine. It may not have been time then. But It is time now.
In refusing to take that last step, I now realize, I nonverbally was telling her that it was a secretive and bad thing. It’s the opposite of the very thing I wanted her to believe. I guess it was I who was scared to share our “real” world with anyone. I was afraid of judgement, of misperceptions, stereotypes, and the numerous people who just don’t understand. It was my roadblock which means it was mine to move, not hers.
I have been waiting to see Silver Linings Playbook, which received so many awards that it’s already doing the very thing that I have always prayed would happen one day… it’s ushering in understanding and conversations out in the free air. I saw it last night and it broke me to my core. I was up till 2am letting the soundtrack of it play and my soul did work to it for hours.
It wasn’t the movie itself that did it… (which it is an amazing story and movie) but it was in the EXTRA’s tagged onto the end of the movie in bonus material… the Why’s of the making of the movie from the book… the fact the director has a son who is living this life, that the director is a parent, who’s lived this day in and day out, the pain and the agony… and no longer has to…
So after talking with my precious daughter today… Today the two of us are embarking together on something that will be healing for us. We will take YOU on our journey if you choose to join us in it. It will be our extra special Silver Lining if you do. We together are peeling off our masks in unison and I will put words to paper the real journey we live out, daily, with the walk of Mental Illness.
Mental Illness is NOT a dirty word. It’s a description of something that is chemically wrong in the brain. It’s not taboo to have diabetes and need insulin. When someone has MS or heck – lets use mine… Chiari Malformation, and life presents unique challenges and problems, no one sucks in a breath and talks quietly out of ear shot about it. It’s spoken about freely and questions are asked, people learn more about something they once never heard about, and suddenly it’s not scary… its something understood.
Mental Illness not a choice, or a cop out so as not to stand trial… not for the majority of the world. It’s also not a death sentence. It’s being dealt cards at birth and choosing to play the hand given and doing so as to not fold and give in, but to strategize and learn how to play the game better. We’ve been walking down this road a long time, and yet, somehow not being “hopeless” we know full well we will continue to walk this road together, as a family, for the rest of our lives. It will not be “cured” but it can be coped with.
Together she and I will express feelings and real situations she and our family deal with continually. We will share her journey of actual inner thoughts and fears that she has never allowed anyone to know outside our home, be it therapy, meds, hospitalization, or just the personal prison she is bound inside of in her own mind.
While the movie was good, it was of adults finding out as adults that they had these issues and the families who have lived with them while undiagnosed.
We have known from age 2 that Lindsey, our oldest, has had a harder time than most, and I’d argue I knew it from the beginning, but since she was my first, I didn’t realize all kids didn’t need mom as much as Lindsey did. It wasnt until she was 7 years old and began expressing the intense desire to die that I truly knew this was not just a dramatic child, who had behavior issues and that I wasn’t a terrible parent – but that she had some real needs for help, far beyond what we could love her through.
My beautiful Lindsey, now 14, was diagnosed as BiPolar Disorder only after we went to every single different angle we could come at it from. She is also Borderline Personality Disorder, has increasing OCD tendencies, and suffers from Multiple Anxiety Disorder. For her, all of these things are early onset in childhood and she has the added issue of it being harder to control due to puberty and the hormones and chemical make up of not just the body, but of also the brain itself.
I know… It sounds like she’s over diagnosed and let me tell you, as much as I’d like to agree, I do not. It’s only with the added, grudgingly agreed upon, diagnoses that she has begun to gain a foothold upon her life. The last 3 years have been absolute living hell for her, and us as a family… yet, here we are, ready to try another day, and praying for a better one tomorrow.
All masks are off… There is nothing left to hide. Lindsey is smiling while I write this, doing her homework at my feet, knowing that the words I type will take us both on a painful and yet powerful journey that we need to take. I am awed by her strength and her resolve. I am moved by her willingness and her maturity to do this.
I love you Linds, more than any words I’d ever write will ever express. This is a gift I am giving to you… my using the words God puts to my fingers to express your very real world, and in doing so, making it concrete and solid so you can gain a hold on things that refuse to be caught. I pray God uses it in your life and for your benefit. I plan to see this as the playbook for all the silver linings that we’ve found, and will find along your travel in life.
(If God chooses to use it to help anyone else along the way… that is a whole playbook of silver linings that will be written in ink only those who join us on the journey will know.) And already I am excited by it.