Hello May, Birthday month, musing on aging gracefully

image

“She is free in her wildness, she is a wanderess, a drop of free water. She knows nothing of borders and cares nothing for rules or customs. ‘Time’ for her isn’t something to fight against. Her life flows clean, with passion, like fresh water.” – Roman Payne

I love growing older. As I age, each year I notice subtle changes in my body and appearance. I’ve grown to love myself even at my darkest. I complain about my weight, wrinkles, and body like any other woman. Unlike most women I feel more complete each year. My crows feet draw attention to my eyes and adds character. The weathered experienced look, as if I’ve lived too much; In reality, I lived too much, laughed too much, lost too much, and cried too much. I wish they were caused solely by laughter. People tell me I’m beautiful now and it very flattering. But, let me tell you about about my beauty.

I grew up being the ugly duckling. It’s hard growing up with boys, I had two brothers and my neighbor, all boys that I also considered my brothers. As you might imagine at critical times in the developmental years they weren’t as free with compliments. It’s possibly another reason I love Roman Payne’s, The Wanderess, “She is free in her wildness, she is a wanderess, a drop of free water. She knows nothing of borders and cares nothing for rules or customs.” That was me, but I was always alone. My brothers did the usual, you’re ugly, you’re fat, or my favorite was “Bertha butt” since I have always had a nice round butt and thighs. Looking back at pictures, I had a beautiful body. I’ve always had the pinup body, but as a kid in my head I  was ugly and fat. I don’t hold it against them now, but in my youth it hurt me deeply and it changed the way I dressed and covered body.
I would quickly get very dark skin from my mother’s American Indian heritage and straight black hair. It would reflect blue like a raven in the light. I found myself lightening, getting perms to curl, and doing various things to make it look like the other kids. I never told anyone, I just begged for a perm, curls, or some sort of chemical treatment to change it so I wouldn’t be teased. I wanted to look trendy, like other girls. Those things lightened my hair to a dark brown all because the straight black was just unnatural and I was teased. I was teased about my skin, my hair, my curves. I worked hard to change my appearance.  I wanted to be pretty, but made myself uglier in the process of fitting in with the girls.
So I always stayed active, involved, but withdrawn. So it  may be surprising to some to learn how incredibly ugly I felt thought my childhood years, even in my various uniforms which made me like the others. I never appreciated myself.

It wasn’t until I turned 20, I lived in Japan for several years. It was the different culture, that changed my view on aging. Aging is beautiful, I regret not being myself as a kid, it was learning I was beautiful not only on the outside, but the inside in a foreign country. It was at the end of my time in Japan bipolar slammed into me like a freight train. It possibly aged me ten more year in a single moment. But I did not fight it, I embraced it. I because free, happier, I was pretty and back in the United States. I had found myself, but I also found my superpower and did not know one thing about controlling my mind.
Aging for me, has been like being reborn each year. I feel unrecompensed with each passing year. Closer to something, closer to completely understanding myself and I welcome my birthday’s. With age, I’ve learned I’m attractive, intelligent, funny, intellectual, sexual, compassionate, complex, and introspective. Because of the experiences of my past, I honestly appreciate each and every compliment and even the negative compliments. It’s made me able to be modest and a more compassionate person. Modesty is rare in today’s society. It’s also recently made me brutally honest. That is what this birthday is going to celebrate. Being honest, telling my stories, and sharing my experiences.

It may appear, it’s been a beautiful ride, but my history and mileage learning to control the speed of my superpower, called Bipolar, with a bit of all the other crap included many training wreaks. Mental illness isn’t something you shouldn’t be ashamed of and I hope if you’re reading this, no matter your age don’t be ashamed for a second.

“’Time’ for her isn’t something to fight against. Her life flows clean, with passion, like fresh water.” – Roman Payne

fullsizerender-6.jpg

 

“Mental labels don’t define who I am, time and aging only gets me closer to those I love, will love, and have loved” ~ S.L. Cato

How to lose friends and piss off people.

 
 “When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories we get to write a brave new ending.” Brené Brown

 
In the most inopportune times my illness takes the wheel and steers me into the ditch.  In the ditch, I’m not reliable, I’m not consistent, and I’m constantly having to reschedule or delay planned activities, because of the grip of anxiety and an overwhelming fear that is unexplainable and inexcusable. I forget birthdays of even my closest friends and family. I’m the definition of a flake, but only because I hide behind a mask everyday. What most people don’t know is that I don’t intentionally flake. If I had a choice, I’d be the outgoing, helpful, and reliable girl they love to be around everyday. The life of the party, dance on the table fun girl, the girl who volunteers as much time as she can to help others. It hits me like a sledgehammer, usually a slight trigger but many times no warning. I know I’m not getting depressed, I am intimate with depression.  I’m suffering the suffocation of anxiety and PTSD. I have a sudden lost of all control of my emotions. On top of everything,  I realize I have won the jackpot of mental illnesses. This one much harder to treat, memories have become the enemy. 

Unlike my superpower bipolar, Post traumatic stress disorder is normally in my community associated with military members who have given their mind to our country and suffer the wounds of war internally. Their wounds aren’t always visible. It’s definitely not a superpower and has no benefits. It’s become a mainstream topic and given credibility because of the media coverage and the fact that more doctors are recognizing it as a serious condition. So being around the military, I rarely talk about my own PTSD as not to take away from the service members. I hate being asked if it was caused by my service. Earning the title Marine was and is still one of my greatest achievements. My PTSD has absolutely nothing to do with my service to my country. Many of my symptoms are the same as my Bipolar disorder, except I’m haunted at times with nightmares and sudden anxiety. Triggered by the memories of near death, trauma, and lost a precious baby boy. I’m not sure I can write anymore about the cause, the trauma is something my mind can’t fully accept. I never talk about the nightmares and sudden overwhelming fears. It hard to balance being bipolar, being stable, and uncontrollable anxiety. I hide it well and it is exhausting, sometimes I am amazed I survive day to day.

So you might ask how do you lose friends and piss people off?  You don’t tell them you can’t leave the house, you just cancel plans without reason. You are embarrassed to let anyone see you cry and trust me, it isn’t something that can be controled. You just don’t show up and withdraw from society. The fear of sitting or being in a group and starting to cry terrifies me, the circling of strangers asking if I’m okay and rubbing my back trying to help me and I know I can’t explain myself or my actions. It’s the fear of unwanted attention. It’s like choking and not being able to talk. You voice is muffled, when you do talk is that of a gasping hiccup. It passes like a storm, but when the dust has settled and the rain has stopped. You find yourself alone, because you decided to protect them from yourself. You cancelled, you didn’t show up, you flaked. You couldn’t bear the embarrassment of being perceived in any other way than person you chose to show the world.  Turn out this pisses people off, who knew? 

In my pursuit of normalcy, I realized I segregated myself from an incredible support system. It was only once I was honest about my mental health did people understand. Many times once I opened up they opened up about their own struggles with mental health. Some of the strongest people I know had their own demons. Like myself, they hid that they relied on similar drugs. The stigma, It’s the whispers, the people who try to help, and the embarrassment of being a very professional outgoing extrovert who crashes into a barely functional introvert.

So my laundry is piled, sink is full of dishes, and I just want to be alone, the battle has begun. I will not be a flake and a prisoner to my mind.  I’ll start today by going to the grocery store and I’ll cry in aisle three. I’ll let a stranger comfort me and accept the embarrassment that is only in my head. We all need to be more open about mental health.  

It’s the clean up in isle three that can be just as scary.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: