Let me share with you a few tips:
If you ever happen to be at a music venue called The Earl in East Atlanta to see David Ramirez perform (he’s the best) and you’re not currently taking one of your main “makes-your-brain-work-better” meds because you can’t afford it and your ex-husband shows up to the show with his girlfriend and you get super drunk – do not, under any circumstances -- text someone you used to be good friends with, but is now friends with your ex-husband’s girlfriend, about how much you cannot stand said ex-husband’s girlfriend.
You see, you will wake up the next morning with a beastly hangover, regretting the fact that you have to move in order to pee, and you will check your phone and see that you drunk texted this former friend and you will find in that moment that instantaneously all of your atoms have individually developed their own case of severe embarrassment at having to be anything a part of the making up of you.
You will put your phone down and you will stagger to the bathroom and you will begin petitioning to anything bigger than you that you did not see that dumbass text that you sent and that it never happened. You will look at yourself in the mirror and squint and say,
“I am a grown-ass adult and grown-ass adults do not drunk text people.”
But you did.
You will immediately begin pulling open your brain files for all of the therapy skills that you’ve learned and you will try to figure out what the fuck to do.
You’ll end up texting an apology to your former friend and try to stop mentally berating yourself for doing something so remarkably stupid.
“That was so dumb,” you’ll say to yourself, “but you are not your mistakes and you are not your failures.” This will not stick and so you will spend the rest of the day feeling sick to your stomach.
You will eventually hear back from the person you drunk texted and it will be a novel of a response about why you are a terrible person; it will be full of accusations you don’t understand; you will be told that they feel sorry for your significant other, and will basically hammer home every horrible thing that you already think about yourself.
Don’t do that.
Let me clarify.
You should absolutely, under any and all circumstances, go see David Ramirez perform – even at The Earl. Just don’t get super drunk and text stupid stuff to people you don’t know very well anymore and who have no earthly idea the journey that you’ve been on just like you have no earthly idea the journey that they’ve been on. Make sense?
In addition, here is another tip:
When people choose to believe the worst about you you have to release the desire to fix it. DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) teaches about “willing hands”. You may have to literally stand there with your palms open to show your brain that you are letting go of the desire to try and explain why you did the dumb things that you did. You also may have to stand there with your palms open to show your brain that you’re having to let go of the fact that the movie “Frozen” has forever tainted “let it go” for you, and that you might spend an unnecessary amount of time thinking you should come up with another way of expressing “letting something go” but goddamn it -- it just works.
“But wait! That’s not who I AM! That was an aberration brought about by a lack of medication and poor life choices on an October night at The Earl!”
They don’t care.
And you shouldn’t either. I mean, obviously you should care about any time you find yourself doing something horrible and mean and uncalled for. Of course. But have grace for yourself. Why?
Because when you do stuff like that? It’s usually born out of extreme pain and hurt and it’s like a big ol’ neon sign going off saying, “PAY ATTENTION TO THIS.”
There is a reason you are responding that way and you need to slow down and think about why your body and mind are reacting in the ways that they are.
Talenti’s Raspberry Sorbet is reallydiculous so you should have some.
Erin, my sister, has often referred to me as her guinea pig. Despite the fact that I am also rotund, with a cute face, and people don’t know quite what to do with me, I have also gone forth and had a bunch of stuff happen to me, or done things, that has caused Erin to look at me and say, “Well. I will most certainly not be doing THAT.” I’ve given her loads of things to choose from and it shows; Erin is the white sheep of the family and I mean that in the best possible way.
I say all of this to say that I will continue to share my less than ideal moments with people because, at this point, I have grown accustomed to being a guinea pig. Also, I’ve seen a print going around on the interwebs lately that reads,
“Be who you needed when you were younger.”
So. I am.
I needed someone to talk openly and frankly about mental illness and what it means. I needed someone to show me how to fight the stigma surrounding mental illness. I needed someone to show me that my mistakes and my, at times, truly terrible and emotionally abusive behavior towards other people, did not define me as a person.
You are not your mistakes. You are not your bad choices. Your consequences may linger for a long time afterwards, like an echo, or a really bad fart -- or those moments when you laugh really weird and it sort of hangs in the air and you hope that others didn’t notice how your face just made a noise like a demented foghorn, but those consequences will fade or, even better, blow your mind and end up being freaking amazing.
All that to say:
YOU ARE NOT YOUR MENTAL ILLNESS OR YOUR ADDICTION OR YOUR STUPID MOMENTS.
Have I made myself clear?
(If you or someone you know has a mental illness check out makeitok.org, it's a site that is committed to getting rid of the stigma around mental illness. Also, please feel free to comment here about what you're going through as someone with a mental illness or living with someone with a mental illness. You can also message me privately if that makes you feel more comfortable.)