Hi. I’m having a lot of trouble getting my thoughts together on this one. (I’ve rewritten this paragraph every hour since I published it.) I’ve been over-analyzing the “stigma of mental illness”. So here are some thoughts I’m having about that:
I’ve generally supported the idea of societal stigma against people like me. I usually agree with the idea that I deserve to be ashamed of my crazy self. But, since spending a week in the wilderness with 11 amazing women (more on that another day), I’m feeling more open to the possibility of nurturing a positive self-worth.
I listened to Brené Brown talk about shame. It was so validating to hear the way she spoke. She said that shame is “an intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging”.
I have spent a long time feeling like that every day. In my personal life, I feel deep shame for my depression, my anxiety, my ocd, my bipolar – the chaos and stress that I have brought to my family and friends. I feel deep shame for being who I am. I am very protective of my right to feel this shame.
On my trip, someone told me a story that went like this:
An old Cherokee told his grandson: “My son, there is a battle going on inside us all. It is a terrible fight between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, regret, greed, self-pity and guilt. The other is good – he is joy, humility, kindness, empathy and hope.”
The boy thought about it, and asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?”
The elder simply replied, “Whichever one you feed.”
Which one have I been feeding? Every time I hide the real me, I am feeding the shame.
I’m need to start feeding the pride. Little bites to start.
I want to feel pride in myself, not in my bipolar disorder. Pride in the woman who stares her bipolar monsters in the eye and says FUCK YOU – don’t hurt my kids. Pride in the woman who told herself that she wanted to carry a canoe and trained and lined up the stars to put herself in a place where she could do it- and then did it. Pride in the woman who refuses to take the smoother course and is giving her kids a life she never knew was possible.
I am complete.