May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I have dealt with my own mental health issues for many years. I have a long way to go in my recovery, but writing has always been helpful and therapeutic. Not only do I write for my personal blog, fiction, and poetry, I also write on occasion for another blog. I don’t get paid. I write because it helps me, and I hope it helps others who read what I share. It’s called The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog. I don’t have bipolar disorder, but I am allowed to write about my experiences.
I have also written for The Mighty. A site that covers many different kinds of mental and chronic health issues. I deal with childhood trauma and many other traumatic events. This has caused anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress. I spent years trying to make sense of these things. Early on, I wasn’t aware of all my symptoms. I wasn’t aware of how I allowed these painful memories to impact my daily life. As I overcame one obstacle, another would take its place. A never-ending battle. I continue on doing as much as I can and trying to stay positive.
After two years of writing for these sites and on my own, I decided to compile many of these blog posts into one collection. I share my thoughts in my collection Mushaburui: A Mental Health Journey. It’s on sale in paperback and Amazon Kindle. My hope with that book was to help others realize they were not alone. I hope others read my experiences and they get the desire to keep fighting. Calling myself a mental health warrior helps build confidence in myself. I want to help build confidence in others. I want others to know they still have a fighting chance.
I’m sorry I have not expressed my needs, wants, and wishes. I often feel selfish and believe I shouldn’t voice my concerns, but I’m learning that the path to healing requires me to be a little selfish. In the past, when I’ve attempted many different things, I didn’t succeed and believed I just wasn’t good enough. With this attitude, I stopped trying and would get upset when no one did something for me. How could they? I never communicated what I wanted; what I needed. I’ve been angry for so long never realizing I’m the one deserving of that anger.
I learn something new about Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder every day and am reminded that everything I hate about myself is a symptom. These are symptoms I may have the rest of my life. One of those symptoms is the failure to express one’s needs, wants, and wishes. Not everyone can get what they want, but there is a kind of power that comes with vocalizing them. It’s similar to writing down one’s goals. Something about that process makes them real. I won’t list everything I want, but I will try to communicate them more often. That alone will be a struggle.
The purpose of this letter is to make you all aware of the problem. This is my problem that I must deal with, but I need you all to be aware. I hope you will support me in this. I hope in some ways you will help me with this. My goal for the remainder of the year is to express my needs more often. Hopefully, it will not be in a burst of anger, but please take this with a grain of salt and remember that even if I’m shouting, what’s important is that I’m communicating. I most certainly need your patience and understanding as I work through my personal issues.
This is only step one in a journey that will take several years. I don’t expect to be good at it in the beginning. I expect to forget about it now and then, but I hope you’ll remind me. The future looks terrifying, but I’m determined to win this battle as well as the oncoming war. I’ve found that ever when I’m in a good mood I still have an underlying bad attitude so maybe this will help with that. I must say one thing. I don’t think some of you know me as well as you think you do, and I think some of you will not take this letter seriously. If you want to say something you think is funny, don’t say it to me.
It is time for a long overdue update. This update is filled with rejections, realizations, and reservations. Let us begin with the rejections. Several short stories I’ve written have been rejected for publication. I’m sure some of you were concerned as to what kind of rejections I referred to, so I hope I have calmed your worries. I continue submitting stories for publications, but it is difficult as some publishers have strict dates when they accept submissions so there is still a lot of waiting. My time will come. Other rejections have included job applications with which I never received a call or interview. Some I have made it to the first interview but never any further. Once again, my time will come.
The realizations I have had recently are not pleasant. I believe they might be considered repressed memories, but with my sister’s help, some things I have remembered and my path to healing will be much longer than I expected. Childhood trauma has resurfaced and not to sound cliché but its turned my world askew. In a way, I feel I don’t know who I am anymore. I supposed I’m on a path to rediscover myself. One thing I recall, when I was in grade school I had a counselor who helped me make a kind of survival kit. When my parents would argue or fight (sometimes it was a physical fight), I would bring out this kit and live in my own little world ignoring what was happening. Perhaps this is why I don’t remember most of it.
This survival kit was just a coffee can wrapped in construction paper with my name and other things written all over it. Inside the can were some choice items; toys mostly. I recently discovered that, as an adult, if something is really troubling me I’ll write. Either poetry or fiction; maybe a screenplay. This is my survival kit as an adult. I create my own little world ignoring what is happening in my life. It’s just a brief escape but just as helpful. I take a little break from me and then return to deal with my problems and overcome the obstacles. I guess I haven’t changed much since childhood. I’m still that 4-year-old boy watching his drunken father beat his mother.
The reservations I’m having are how I should deal with everything. How should I handle this new (but not new) information? What is the first step in healing? Do I share these things with the world or keep them bottled up inside? Well I’m writing this blog post, so I’m sharing a little. Technically I’m writing and that’s how I cope with everything. That’s how I express myself because I don’t express myself in the normal ways like everyone else. I need to see a professional to deal with my past trauma and begin to heal but that requires money I don’t have. I’ll get that kind of help one day but for now all I can do is try to remain positive. That’s what cognitive behavioral therapy does. Stay positive and keep the negative thoughts away.
Until I receive a professional diagnosis, I can say I definitely have anxiety, but I think that is just a symptom of Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD). I look at the symptoms and I feel like it describes me perfectly. I look at the symptoms of anxiety and it fits mostly but not completely. This is a whole new journey for me. I’ll need a lot of support that I’ve never had before and I’m not sure how I’ll deal with everything. Right now, though, I need a descent paying job with health benefits. My time will come!