Time to Break Through The Wall of Silence

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Time to Break The Wall of Silence

Okey dokey,

I am feeling verrryyyyyy vulnerable but I know that I am amongst friends so it is time to talk because I am processing a lottttttttt of information but I am committed to authentically facing the challenges and joys in my life.  Here goes:  We have finally arrived at an official mental health diagnosis and it is a bit much to take in.  Here it is:  PTSD/anxiety disorder/adult ADD/bipolar disorder.  I hit every single hallmark for all of the above.  Damn dirty over-achiever lol.  While there is some relief in having terms to place on the manifestations -racing thoughts, the panic, the inability to concentrate, the need to escape, the triggering of fight/flight responses, the anger, the highs, lows, in-betweens and bone-crushing exhaustion – there is also a good amount of apprehension.  That age-old question of what now and how will this affect my ability to achieve the big things I want to do with my life rises up from the deep.  Panic begets panic and looking inward for too long causes implosion on my part.

Soooooooo. . .I choose to look outward; to help where I can, to know that I am worth doing the me-work that will establish better balance and well-being.  I know that the gift of mental illness is that if I am self-aware, it teaches me to actively practice self-care.  I have lots of thoughts and a few fears tonight since each diagnoses manifests worry or angst in me in a different fashion.

PTSD:  manifests itself in alarm, easy startling, a fight response when others enter my personal space uninvited

Anxiety disorder: manifests itself when least expected and is lower if I know that I only have to get through ____ amount of time in a given situation and then I either won’t have to face it again at all or won’t have to face it anytime soon.  Ramps up if there is a stressor that I have to endure regularly.  Still, I believe that exposure therapy is sometimes helpful.

ADD:  Manifests itself by scattering my thoughts, affecting my short term memory and making long periods of intense concentration impossible because I just want to escape.  Necessary tasks are more difficult due to the inability to concentrate.

BIPOLAR DISORDER:  Manifests itself with high and low energy.  During the highs, my energy and mood are boundless.  I am able to multitask well during those periods.  During the lows, the muscle pain is very palpable, exhaustion reigns and it takes everything I have to be any modicum of productive.

Welcome to my world.  Yet I’m here.  Learning. Working. Making a difference and hoping that sharing honestly not only helps me to understand myself but for others to understand that facing life with a mental illness does not mean we are weak but rather that we are courageous as hell.

 

Visible Via The Invisible

She studied her face in the mirror.  Purple – the regal color –  though not at the moment.   The bruises stole purple’s regal presence.  Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?, she pondered ruefully.  The mirror will never reply, Eliana.  Never.

Steam  dripped and ran, rivulets of steam pooling into an ocean, each part of a whole yet rippling to create rivers anew.  Steamy tears brought on by the sight of her face; puffy, swollen and full of pain while her head and neck maintained their strong posture.

Her reverie was broken a strong voice with a thick Long Island accent.  “Do you see what I see?  Beauty, strength, unwavering love for others, an artist, a tunesmith, a woman full of wisdom born of experience, a persistent woman who rises like a phoenix to meet each challenge, a human becoming who she is destined to be in this world, a woman whose measure of success is not money, but how many lives she touches with love and encouragement.”  The mirror paused, his tears continuing but New York tough voice silent while she pondered his words, turning them about like a rock tumbling in a stream.

I DO all of those things.  It’s my nature.  But beautiful?  Beautiful, no.  I am not the woman who turns heads when she enters a room.”

“No, you are simply the woman with an aura that draws others near so that you can heal their brokenness by listening or a gentle word or touch because you see their humanity amidst the brusque, the proud, the unpolished and the overlooked.   You see the invisible and in doing so, you shall never yourself BE invisible.”

Eliana wiped the mirror’s face.  “My dear friend.  Amazing how you always help me to see ME.  You reflect all of those qualities that lie below the surface, just outside of my view and my grasp.  You help me to take the reins and drive the chariot to my destiny.”  She looked into the silver mirror, with its yellow and blue mosaic calla lilies and drank deeply of her reflection.  Perhaps even bruises can be regal, she chuckled to herself.  Perhaps even bruises.

We become visible by unveiling the invisible.  Such a dichotomy.  Yet such a truth.   When we reveal our vulnerabilities, our hearts, our deepest thoughts, hopes and tightly held dreams, we are no longer invisible.  When we release our light, the shadows move to the side to allow more light in.

We are not invisible.  We only need to open the door and let the light shine on us.

 

Who Ever Heard of a Weak Phoenix?

Phoenix Stencil, unknown artist

Strength means many things – sometimes it means perseverance in the face of challenges, sometimes it roars and at other times it is a quiet voice.  Strength can also be boundaries – healthy boundaries that stem from our love for ourselves.  Strength is often visualized as that of a Phoenix, the fire bird rising from the ashes.

Yet sometimes Phoenix is tired.  I have a story to tell about Phoenix.  I am Phoenix.  Despite significant challenges – physical, emotional and mental at times- I carry on, break myself apart, get rid of the puzzle piece that no longer fits, pour the sand and mortar back in and rebuild strength from vulnerability.  Yet sometimes life can drop a Phoenix to his or her knees.  Today I received a diagnosis that I cannot reverse but may be able to live gracefully with.  Clinical deafness.  Though I can hear sound, I am largely unable to ascertain words.  What does this mean for me going forward?  I don’t know.  How will it affect my ability to learn and be financially productive?  I don’t know.  I admit to letting the Phoenix lie down for a while and rest.  The Phoenix was weak.

Yet if one looks at mythology, how can a Phoenix rise if she never rests?  I needed time to process the change, to accept whatever limitations this diagnosis may place on my life and to figure out how to continue dancing boldly into my life.  You see, we don’t have to have it all.  We must have ourselves – the love and knowledge of ourselves.  We don’t need all 5 senses to be valuable.  I don’t need to have it all to make a difference, to show beauty to the world. What is needed above all is love and support and the knowledge that one thing “missing” does not make us less of a person, give us less value to offer the Universe, does not mean that we are not ENOUGH.  What it means is that Phoenix rests, then rises with the knowledge that all we have in any given moment is ENOUGH.  That rising and simply breathing is enough.  That one challenge does NOT a failure make.  The biggest blessings are often disguised within the roadblocks.  How does the Phoenix rise? Passion.  Choose a goal, no matter how small it may seem and take a baby step toward it, then another.  Crawl, toddle, run and fly up from the ashes.

Peace,

You are so very loved.

© 2012 by Paulissa Kipp