Dearest Veronica Age 20,
You spend a lot of time hiding who you really are. You think others will judge you unkindly if they knew the real you. You feel this way, because you judge yourself and others harshly and are overwhelmed with feelings of shame and hostility.
I know you.
I know there are multiple days in a row you cannot sleep. I know the deep phantom voices you begin to hear. I know the murderous plots you begin to believe.
Insomnia, hallucinations, paranoia…
I know what it is to not trust my reality.
I know when you can’t get out of bed. I know when you can’t do the work of your life. I know when you can’t learn anything beyond how much you hate yourself and want to die.
Depression, lethargy, suicide…
I know what it is to be a danger to myself.
I know your impossible highs followed by your crushing lows.
I know how you cheat, lie, and steal to try to make it better if only for the moment. I know your band aid solutions are wearing thin and will soon fall away leaving way for unchecked, unfettered severe mental illness with no coping or healing skills.
I know you very well. I know you feel lost.
Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.
Henry David Thoreau
This feeling of being lost signifies a time of growing and learning. Your current confusion has a reason.
I know it feels like it will last forever. I know it gets in the way of your goals and hopes. I know you think no one is capable of understanding. I know it is painful. I know it seems like senseless suffering.
Not all wounds are visible. Some we bury within ourselves creating for ourselves cages of secrecy.
Your secrecy keeps you locked within yourself. Your secrecy keeps you from asking for life affirming help. Your secrecy slowly kills you.
Free yourself from your secrets. Unlock yourself. Come into the light, and truly see yourself for the first time.
To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.
There will be an end. It will come with a lot of personal work and responsibility, therapy, medication, truth, and faith. It will take years. It will cost you transitory, illusionary things like wealth, fair weather friends, and prestige. It will also gain you amazing, lasting gifts like patience, compassion, and strength.
Through your new blessings, you will heal the pain and estrangement in your family. You will learn how your mother views you as a woman of Aphrodite and Joan of Arc caliber. You will teach your father how to love without always understanding or agreeing with that loved one.
Our sorrows and wounds are healed only when we touch them with compassion.
Your biggest hurdle is not overcoming any short comings due to your mental illness but meeting yourself and others with empathy, acceptance, and kindness. You must learn these lessons for the suffering to subside. Until you put away your prejudices and criticism, the pain will seem insurmountable.
No one is a bum. No one is crazy. No one is stupid. No one is worthless. No one is beyond love.
Not even you.
And, learn these lessons you will in lone padded cells, in baptismal pools, in handcuffs.
Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.
And, remember to be led by your dreams not your memories. Remember your creativity in face of remembering your painful history.
Remember the creative force who made you and loves you.
You will find Her, too, in lone padded cells, in baptismal pools, in handcuffs.
Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to the sunset sky.
You are more than a summation of your past actions, thoughts, moods, and feelings.
You are not your diagnosis. You are not the monster you paint yourself to be. You never were.
Whether in times of personal calm or personal storm, you are always the heavenly sky.
You are victory! You are a miracle! You are spirit! You are life!
I was you. And, you will be the best part of me.
Veronica Age 40
P.S. Don’t be ashamed that I know your story. It inspires me daily.