What's the Goal, Exactly?
Updated: Jan 19
First off, I have to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I got so many supportive messages on Instagram (@midsummermother) after announcing my first post.
The primary goal of what I’m doing is to reform stereotypes of people who have struggled mentally, perhaps being hospitalized, or whom have even struggled on a regular basis without ending up in psychiatric care. It's also to create a reference platform of reader stories that can be viewed and perhaps be used as a tool for inspiration and perseverance.
Mental health suffering is more common than you’d think, it happens behind closed doors and people rarely talk about it. I think I used to be afraid of people thinking I was crazy, or that I was not to be trusted… so I used to share small pieces of my story that omitted a lot of the facts because I didn’t want people to think of me as unstable— because it wasn't entirely true nor was it a static occurance. I also didn’t want people to think I was a burden on society. I actually got my first job when I was 16 years old and have been working ever since. Anyway- that’s beside the point and a topic for another post about mental health misconceptions.
I was a product of my environment, like anyone else. Unfortunately, a toolbox of positive coping mechanisms was never given to me to utilize throughout my life, so I learned things the hard way. Had I possessed the tools to cope, I don’t think I would have been down the same path by a long shot.
There is still a common belief that anyone who has entered a psych ward is crazy. The same belief goes for someone who doesn’t conform to societies standards of emotional regulation, either. We all have our moments, and some of us don't have anywhere to turn thus end up in care. That doesn't necessarily classify everyone who has experienced a crisis into a single category of being deranged.
If you Google the definition for crazy, here is the first thing that pops up and I think this is generally what is held as the common belief about someone who has needed assistance with their mental health:
1. mentally deranged, especially as manifested in a wild or aggressive way.
I realize this is a touchy subject, so let me be clear. While there are a plethora of mental health disorders— environment, society and genetics play a role in the expression of such a disorder. Sometimes one of those variables outweighs the other(s) and that can determine how much we can grow from our mental strife. I truly believe there is room for growth for most people— even if their primary variable is genetics. While I am not a mental healthcare professional, I have faith that we all have an ability to at least make small changes that will have big impacts. I’m all for everyone living their best life and I know it is possible. On the other end of the spectrum, there are definitely psychopaths and people who show no remorse or inclination to want to be better-- I am not talking about those people. I am not qualified to make suggestions about anyone except myself really, but I just think born psychopaths are an extreme case of mental illness. Did you know that even autism is considered a mental health disorder? There is no way we can group psychopaths and those on the spectrum in the same tone. It just doesn't paint a clear picture of what mental illness is and how conditions are all very different, some even mild.
I was misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder and put on lithium when I was 14, following a suicide attempt. When I say attempt, I mean that seriously. I don’t believe I had true intentions of ending my life but instead, I was desperate to be seen and also apparently desperate to escape. I was never taught coping skills, I only observed what consisted mostly of erratic behavior with some good moments scattered sparsely throughout my memories. The latter moments were bittersweet, because I knew they would come to an end and things would go back to “normal.” In any case, I was hospitalized for 2 weeks. I got my shoelaces taken from me- y’know, standard operating procedure so I wouldn’t strangle myself. It all started when my Dad came home from work and instantly began yelling at me, and I was nearly unresponsive and very sluggish. I had taken every pill in the house and I drank as much alcohol as I could stomach. He accused me of using hard drugs and called the police on me. In retrospect, it makes me laugh because I had never used any drugs at that point in my life. Anyway, the officers arrived and immediately called an ambulance… I got my stomach pumped and all sorts of things, then I got a psychiatric evaluation which led me to be hospitalized. I don’t think I would have ended up in a hospital, if I felt I had somewhere to turn or if there was a glimmer of hope. As hard as it is to be vulnerable to a world that I felt was unfair and cruel, I still longed for human connection and acceptance. That is why I am doing what I am doing- to shatter the ideas around mental suffering… we are not crazy people. We are people who often just need help, for whatever reason. As human beings, we deserve to be safe, seen and accepted.
Following my discharge, I continued to take medication that made me, for lack of a better phrase- more mental. I stopped taking it all together around 16 because it was making me feel out of touch. This is something you should never do, and because I didn’t taper, I had terrible side-effects and felt immediately like something was terribly wrong with me. I had suicidal ideations and my mood was all over the place. I weathered the storm (lots of details missing for a post later down the road....much later) and eventually moved to California when I was 17 1/2 to stay with my eldest half-sister. A year later, in San Francisco, I saw a psychiatrist who “undiagnosed” me and said that I had impulse control issues and poor coping skills. He suggested I attend therapy and thought I fit the bill for ADHD. I put it out of my mind, mostly because I couldn’t afford to get psychiatric care. I was working 3 jobs and could barely pay my rent. I was unmedicated until my late 20’s. And I was fine enough- but I still had a serious issue with impulsivity, the ability to trust others, and the ability to love myself. I just didn’t know how. I felt like I was never able to connect with people, because I didn’t have an honest connection with myself. Trauma hides in our minds, because it is enveloped in shame and it is one of the hardest things to look at in oneself. It sometimes seems easier to avoid it, but that always makes things worse or exacerbates our symptoms. At least in my case.
Eventually when I moved to Los Angeles, I was indeed diagnosed with ADHD. I began intense therapy last year because my problems kept following me no matter what I tried to do differently. I relied on myself for a solution which I was used to, but I simply didn’t have the tools. And even if I did, with my ADHD brain, I’m not sure I would have been able to follow-through without learning how to integrate structure into my life. Luckily, I was able to manage my emotions enough to own a successful business and to get accepted into BSN programs. I am lucky enough to have intense hyper-focus with my diagnosis. I either can’t focus on anything without medication, or I can focus obsessively on one thing. It’s kind of wild and can sometimes be a good thing, believe it or not. School was my focus, then flowers were. And I was able to be successful in both. The business was amazing because I felt comfortable in the chaos of the unexpected. Accomplishing all of it was hard, and scary, but this is the time in my life when I saw my impulsivity as a sometimes postive force for the first time.
I also fell in love with a man who truly accepted me and who struggled with abandonment issues of his own. Today, he is my husband, Pep. We had a lot of childhood parallels which really allowed us to understand one another. When I fought his love, he held me and told me he loved me anyway. Even when I refused to believe that he could ever love me. When he saw my depths of despair, he helped me find the resources to help myself. And here I am today- feeling as strong as ever and on the journey to knowing myself in a way I never had the sight to before. There is clarity in my life now that I am immensely grateful for.
In any case, I consider myself very lucky to have come out of my history on the brighter side. There were many times I could have turned to the darkness, and I didn’t (I mean, I did, but I didn't stay there). I really have to applaud myself for that and anyone who has ever had to take themselves out of a dark place inside. That takes extreme courage… it isn’t seen by the naked eye, but I truly celebrate you. You are stronger than you know—— and you deserve to live your best life.
There is more to my story, but I feel at this point sharing would just be harping and we all don’t need to hear anymore- am I right? Or, am I right? LOL. It’s just so much, and I’m honestly a little exhausted after writing this all out— this internoodle purge thing is GREAT. lol.
Coming next week, I’ll begin sharing reader stories about overcoming mental heath hardships. If you or someone you know may be interested in sharing, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org The goal with this is to eventually have a library of stories that readers can view. If someone stumbles upon a story similar to theirs, where the person overcomes their mental health struggle(s), it can offer the reader hope and perhaps make the road ahead seem less daunting.
I’ll also be working on a bohemian floral arrangement tutorial with all preserved florals. I should have this video & blog posted by the end of next week.
Take care of yourself & thanks for reading,
A photo of Pep and I from 2018 (I think). My most favorite memories in life have formed since he came into my world.