When I was a teenager, I was told that I could do and be anything I wanted as long as I worked hard for it. There was nothing standing in my way except me.
You still hear that sentiment a lot, but as I’ve grown older, I wonder….Can a person really, truly be anything that they want? What if that person has a diagnosed mental illness and still really wants to be anything they want to be, but is constantly fooled by their symptoms?
Let me explain.
The scariest thing about my mental illness is the lie that it tells me over and over again. The same lie. “You are almost good enough, but you’re not quite there yet. In fact, you will likely never get there, so just cool your jets and coast.”
I know there is a lot of potential inside of me, and I know that’s true for most of us. The problem with reaching one’s potential is two-fold. On one hand, you might listen to the lie enough that it becomes the truth. You will never reach this so-called potential, so you may as well accept it and just allow yourself to be defined by your mental illness. OR, you may really believe you are reaching your potential only to find out that in reality, well, you’re not.
That’s the scariest part for me. I think I am doing all the right things. I think I am following instructions and doing well. I believe my work and my potential are meeting in the middle.
This past week has been a difficult pill for me to swallow. My symptoms have clouded my own view of myself and have caused me to dip pretty low into my depression. When I am experiencing mania, I believe that I am on the right track and that all the pieces are falling in place. It’s very painful to learn that they are not. Painful and confusing.
As I reflect on this past week, I realize that I have given my own symptoms more control over my outlook than I have in a long time. I don’t know why. I’m not sure I need to know. I just need to know that sometimes the lies outweigh the truth, and when that happens, I feel that any potential I may have found is lost.
I feel like a victim and that really annoys me because I know that I am not a victim. My thought patterns are tangled and I have to go back to trying to untangle them and find what’s real so that I can continue in the right direction.
This week has been blip in the road of what I believe in. My potential is still there even if it feels just out of reach. For now.
About Lori Lane Murphy
Lori is passionate about banishing stigma around mental illness not just for our kids, but perhaps, especially for our kids. She believes that if we can take away some of the guilt and shame associated with these issues, conversations will become easier. This is one of the reasons that Lori organizes storytelling shows across the city of Toronto focusing on sharing stories of mental illness. All in Our Heads gives storytellers and audiences alike the opportunity to learn from each other and support the efforts of anti-stigma campaigns. It’s also an opportunity for Lori to share some of her own stories in the hope of helping others. Lori volunteers with Art with Impact by being part of their board and organizing All in Our Heads. She volunteers as a speaker with Partners in Mental Health and is especially excited about her new volunteer role as a Healthy Minds blogger! As a storyteller, comedian, professional speaker and facilitator, Lori wants to use her voice to support those who struggle with the stigma of mental illness and to help remove the shame still too often associated with it.