As many of you know, I used to live a very different life. I use to work on New York’s fashion shows, style photo shoots, edit magazines, manage deadlines and people, attend social events, schmooze, etc. And you know what? I was quite good at it – juggling hundreds of balls in the air at one time.
But something happened. Somewhere along the way, mental illness entered the picture.
When I had my first “breakdown” I had just moved out to California to be a Style Editor. Dream job. Great salary. Cool roommate. Close to my sister.
I lost all that.
I am not here to say that you cannot be who you were before you became mentally ill, I am just here to say that, for me, that period of my life ended. With my severe anxiety disorder, I can not imagine attending balls or gallery openings or sitting front row at a fashion show.
Living with severe bipolar 1, I cannot, at least at this point, hold down a full-time job. There are days I cannot get out of bed. Wasted days. Days when I am agitated or irritable or angry for no reason other than the chemicals in my mind, stop me from socializing. I will never be a magazine editor again and that is okay with me. That is my point.
I am a writer. I wrote a book which, fingers crossed, will sell. I get paid to blog, to write for websites, to read books and do reviews. I have found ways to still use my talents to make money.
I have a friend who is mentally ill who was a ranger in the Army. He jumped out of planes and helicopters. He is being honorably medically discharged because of his illness. Imagine how that feels. Oh wait, I know exactly how that feels, to finally get to where you were going and then have your head shit screw it up.
But, like me, he will find a new way of life. He will use the talents and gifts he has to move forward.
IT IS NOT EASY.
It is not easy to accept that you may not follow the path you planned. It may take a lot of bravery to look at yourself in the mirror and say, “OK. I am not who I thought I was going to be and I cannot control all of that, but I love who I am and I will find my path.”
The acceptance doesn’t happen overnight. I mourned and, perhaps, still do, my old life. It was so exciting. But what was exciting 8 years ago is completely overwhelming today. That’s mental illness. It changes you.
I just wanted to say it is okay to be sad if the life you planned doesn’t work out because of mental illness, but remember you are not useless. There are things you can offer this world – whether for monetary value or not. Keep your head up.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net