What does talking about the elephant in the room mean to you?
It’s something that was present in my life for a very long time, but never spoken about or understood. It was something that hung over me and built a wall around me. I couldn’t deceiver what it was or understand how to get rid of it. I just knew there was something there…this darkness… which I didn’t speak to anyone about. Until it got so unmanageable it over took me. Only then did that elephant become real and it was the most terrifying reality I had to face at the time. Talking about it means that “elephant” has no power over me. It no longer looms over my life or hinders me. I’m not afraid of it and I do not blame everything on it. I know what it is and I know what is real. I know what will silence it and what will feed into it.
How do you take ownership of these issues?
You own it by being open and honest about it. I’ve been diagnosed with many things in my life. I was institutionalized at a young age. It took me a long time to figure out what applied to me, through help of a health care professional, talking to people, and learning more about myself. The silver lining of these issues is I’ve learned how to take control of myself, my emotions, and my life through open discussions and mindfulness of them.
What helped you speak up about mental illness?
The three things I was diagnosed with at a young age were BPD (borderline personality disorder), bipolar, and manic depression. These diagnoses were coupled with a misunderstanding of my imbalances, along with a dependency for drugs and alcohol. I did not manage my behaviors in a constructive way during this time and I lied to myself and others on a daily basis. The only coping strategy I had at that time was numbing myself through substances and other negative behavior. I think the only time I really got honest with myself was when I got sober. I was given much more clarity on what I needed to do to live a stable and progressive life. It helped me become honest with my addictions, co-dependencies, and mental health. Because the program I am in is all about open mindedness and willingness that was the only thing I had left to get better. I had tried everything else.
What is the best advice you could give someone suffering?
The best advice I could give to some that is struggling is to stop saying you’re alone or you “feel” alone. It’s giving you affirmation that you aren’t worth it and to isolate even more. Being alone is not and will never be a real feeling. It is derived from fear, anxiety, and sadness. Its okay to recognize those are REAL feelings, from there you can work on where they are coming from and what to do to deal with them. Also, you are NOT a victim. I felt like a victim for the LONGEST time, I felt like nothing was on my side. I HATED myself for what I was and what I would always be. But I’m not special in that way. I am just another human being that must understand herself, her mental illness, her addictions, and what she TRULY needs to create stability. Find what works and what doesn’t work. Don’t use quick fixes. If you have willingness and the desperation of a drowning person you will get somewhere. I was very sick and I was killing myself. I needed to start to understand what I truly needed or I wouldn’t be around. I have found the things that keep me emotionally and spiritually sound. It’s a must for me incorporate these activities into my day to day life. I found a piece of mind through therapy, honesty, open mindedness, prayer, and a 12 step program.