Blog

Growing up

 

I resented some things when I was young.

I resented that I had to spend time in a  Mental Hospital.

I resented that I was ostracised,

and that I never received invitations.

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Then I decided to let all this go.

I accepted that my young years would be different,

and not how I wished.

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I became more relaxed about these issues.

Every so often,

a wish to join in would rise up,

and I would wrestle with all the old feelings.

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But I always battled this down.

My youth was clearly different,

and not how I would wish it to be.

But there was no point making myself miserable.

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When I look back,

what did I really want?

The answer is.. a garden.

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In the end I got the garden that I wished for.

I saw Daffodils  appear in Spring,

I counted blooms in Summer.

I sat under the trees and read books.

I drank tea, and watched the sun set, the moon appear.

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There is a difference between getting all we want,

and just one thing.

I was given a garden.

I did not have a circle of friends,

but did I really need that?

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So many beautiful moments happened in the garden.

Moments that I might have missed if I had been surrounded by friends.

I remember the moon hanging so low I could almost reach out and touch it.

I remember spending October nights in short sleeves,..it was so warm.

I remember late suppers that I cooked and carried outside to the picnic table.

I remember reading by the light of a lantern.

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I should be grateful for those days and nights.

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Youth

 

One source of grief that I have is that I did not experience fun times in my youth.

I was isolated from my peer group,

and I was not invited to Parties.

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Around me I could see people going to Picnics, Barbecues, going Bowling,

and I was never asked.

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But what if I turn this around?

Young people in poor countries have to work.

In Africa they have to help on the farm, go to the well for water,

look after the smaller children.

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In the West, we can feel entitled to leisure time, fun times.

We forget that life is harder in other countries.

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I am, in a way, coming from a place of privilege.

In my Country,

young people can watch television all day,

sun bathe,

plan a night out.

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I felt sad because I was not included,

but perhaps I should challenge my own way of thinking.

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It would be great to look back on a youth of fun times,

to have great memories.

However, I should practise gratitude for all that I do have.

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Seeking

 

to free myself from mental illness has not been simple.

It is as though the illness itself does not want to die.

It is like being trapped in a fishing net.

The more I struggle, the tighter the knots.

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In ‘Carlito’s Way’, Al Pacino wished to escape his past.

But he was unable to.

At the end, (spoiler alert!),

he had become caught up in his criminal past,

and he was now mortally wounded.

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Even though he had wanted a new, clean future.

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I can relate to that because I wished to escape my own past.

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However, I did come from a dysfunctional family.

I have to bring them with me,

I cannot leave them behind.

So I am surrounded by unhelpful behaviours.

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I have been locked in this struggle for twenty years.

You would assume I could have broken free in less than that,

maybe two years,

certainly not still be struggling.

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I wished for a life free of mental illness,

but this has escaped me.

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Hospitals

 

I have to accompany relatives to the Hospital from time to time.

It is difficult.

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I dislike Hospitals.

I hate the banging doors, the sirens, the long walk to a clinic.

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I hate feeling I have been plucked from every day life into a world in which you might see someone frightened,

bewildered,

in tears with a relative trying to help,

or even a relative in tears.

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This is a place in which people receive bad news.

I want to help,

so I go to visit,

bit it is a challenge for me.

It is hours before I return to normal.

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I dislike the bright lights also.

I like soft lights,

I like candles.

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It is part of my life,

and I need to come to terms with it.

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I psyche myself up before I go,

and then I have a treat when I come home.

 

Stigma

 

There were so many elements to Stigma.

One was the people who did not actively take part,

but who allowed it to happen.

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They knew it happened.

it happened in front of them.

They just stayed silent, looked down at the ground, did not speak out.

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They could have stopped this,

spoken out in my defence,

but remained silent.

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Once, I thought they were good people,

friends.

But when the time came,

they did not speak up for me.

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Youth

 

My youth was spent fighting mental illness,

so I did not really have a typical youth.

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My Mum used to say that not everyone has a fun time when they are young.

She had responsibilities as a young person,

and that had compromised the choices she could make.

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At the time, I had to accept my youth as it was.

I had to battle episodes of Depression.

I had to stay on my feet.

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I was sad underneath,

but I did not want to dwell too much on what could have been.

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Everyone else seemed to be having a great time.

They did not have an illness to contend with.

If a Music Concert was played locally,

I could hear the music echo over the town,

hear the cheering,

but I could not go myself.

I had no friends my own age,

and I had become disconnected from my peer group.

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Stigma was a problem for me in those years.

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Investment in the local area was visible,

and I could see new venues being built.

I could see people my age excited about these new places,

and eager to try them out.

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I would pass conversations about the new place,

and who planned to go.

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Of course, I felt sad,

but in a way it did not matter.

I love gardens,

and I spent many happy hours in my own.

I gathered books and movies,

and was often content.

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It would help no-one if I gave in to grief over what might have been.

What are you missing out on anyway?

My Mum would talk sense,

but underneath I wished things had been different.

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Now I am past my youth.

Those years have gone.

I think I hoped I could reclaim my youth in some way,

but I never did.

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People can lose their  youth to so many things,..

illness,

responsibility,

even War.

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Youth was taken from those generations in both World Wars,

and they had to accept this with grace.

This is the thing,..

I need to accept these losses with grace.

I need to understand my youth was not typical or light-hearted,

but that grace will help me to deal with those regrets.

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Mentors

 

I have always struggled with immaturity.

A trap I fell into was to seek a Mentor,

and somehow ended up with the wrong one.

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If a person was an adult, I assumed they knew enough to get that far.

So they must be right.

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If they used words like ‘humility’, ‘compassion’,

then that meant they were imbued with those qualities.

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I now know that a person will pepper their conversation with such words,

but that does not mean they practise humility or compassion.

They may already know that to use such words will trap those who cannot discern.

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This is the problem,..

discernment.

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I could not discern, and so I made bad choices.

If I chose the wrong Mentor,

then I became damaged.

I would follow that person, and not realise they were leading me astray.

It takes wisdom and experience to really know whom to trust, listen to, believe.

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I also know that we may lead others,

and need to be careful how we behave, especially around young people.

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I have observed others being led astray.

They chose the wrong Mentor.

One reason is the Mentor may be using the relationship as an ego boost.

The reliance of the young person on their every word can feed their ego.

In such cases, this is not a healthy relationship for either person.

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The trap is the older person may want an ego boost,

they imagine they are wise when they are not.

It takes a lot of wisdom to lead the young or lost.

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I needed guidance as I was mentally ill when I was young.

Time and again, I chose the wrong person.

This caused real hurt in my life,

also disappointment.

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I am still dealing with those issues.

I feel angry with those who entered my life, and feel that they could have done better.

I feel angry with myself because I was so blind.

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I trusted Counsellors and Psychiatrists.

I did not know then that they could be wrong,

or have feet of clay.

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I want to end on a positive note,

but the truth is I am still dealing with these issues.

I may have to for the rest of my life.

I may be asked for advice myself,

and need to make all the right choices.

I may also seek guidance again,

and need to be careful whom I approach,

not forget the lessons of the past.

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