I am crazy. It’s true. I am crazy sometimes. I have been aware of this pretty much my whole life. There are moments when I am not in control of myself the way I want to be. I was born this way. It is not my fault. I am actively trying to fix this. These are things I tell people and myself often. Mental illness is still taboo in our society today, that talk about everything. Nothing is off-limits except maybe mental illness and addiction. Why? My theory is that those things affect more people than they are willing to admit. Why can’t they? The unknown. We don’t know things about the brain that we know about the body. I guess that is why. You wouldn’t talk about someone with cancer in a derogatory way. I can’t help my mental disorder the same way they can’t help cancer. In a way, they are extremely similar. There is no real cure and you can’t “catch” them. They can both be fatal, sometimes even with treatment.

I am not embarrassed by my disease. It is me, for better and worse. My diagnosis as of late is depression, anxiety, some OCD, PTSD and addiction/alcoholism. They all work together to create the perfect storm. Now, some of it is hereditary and some were worsened with how I tried to self medicate. It is almost impossible to separate them from each other now. These things make up who I am. There is no cure, only medicine to try to help the symptoms. Which, is now tricky because I cannot take anything addictive. Well, anything can be addictive, but I mean nothing chemically addictive. In my early drug use years, I took large amounts of Ecstasy. I have no clue what was really in what I took and they are still not sure of the side effects. They do know it can affect my serotonin levels, which is what causes happiness.I am not a doctor and I also have a horrible memory. Research these things.

So, anyway. I am a hot mess sometimes, not all the time. I see several doctors, go to meetings (I try) and go to counseling, oh, AND church! I am trying to reach some level of “normal.” For someone who has never been anything close to normal, this is a difficult task. I have been on so many different medicines. I don’t remember them all. When I started this quest, I was around 16 and didn’t commit to the process. I was also misdiagnosed as bipolar because I had yet to remember the rape which led to PTSD. I know, nothing simple in my life. Now that I am ready to find the right treatment, things are a little easier. Still, it isn’t fun to have to do all this. Also, not cheap. Thankfully, I have wonderful parents who help and support my journey.

One of the hardest parts of living with a mental disorder, is the stigma attached to it. There is this shame I think people want me to feel. I have for so long, but I just don’t want to anymore. Yes, there are things “wrong with me,” but really, no one is perfect. I know that there are things I need to work on and I am working on them. I practice self-reflection  daily. I have to! My doctors ask me all the time to think about things I really don’t want to. It is painful sometimes. Why did you do that? What was your motive? How can you do it differently next time? How can you make this better? How can you be better? It is up to me to change and grow. I know that. I look back on 3 years of sobriety and I see some tremendous growth. In a way 3 years is a long time, yet not that long at all in comparison to my 31 years. I have so much to really learn about who I am. It is a new feeling to put the real Vanessa first and not just feed my addiction.

I am finally addressing issues I have had my whole life! It is really scary to face the dark areas in who you are and shine a light on them. Your initial reaction is to run or to rationalize. Don’t. Own them. I make mistakes, I am so flawed. However, the ability to recognize that and try to change them is a step in the right direction. I love Christmas and I love the hope that Jesus’ birth brought. We don’t have to be perfect because He is.

Me waiting at the doctor. It is so gloomy in that office!

Me waiting at the doctor. It is so gloomy in that office!

I went to the psychiatrist yesterday and am starting a new anti-depressant this week. I am ready and ready. We have documented my progress and the things we want the medicine to help. It isn’t a magic bullet and I still have to be active in growing. I am excited because I am fully committed to a healthy me. I have my family home and we are all happy. There is so much good happening in our lives. I see and feel God all around. He made me, so there is some good in me. The closer I draw to Him the better I will be. I hope you have a Merry Christmas. Remember that you are never alone and there are millions of people out there that struggle along with you. Do you best to choose to see the good. Forgive the way Christ forgave you. Love the way God did when He sent His only son to Earth to meet a painful death for us. Reach out, I am sure you will find the peace you need, the peace you need daily.



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