Mental health blogs can sometimes tend to focus on the ‘dark stuff’. It is fair to say that we mental health sufferers do have to battle with a lot of challenging stuff. This week alone has already started off as a real bastard for me. But want I want to focus on in this post is the cool shit that has happened to me because of my mental health. Some of it has been delightfully heartwarming, and some downright hilarious….maybe not in the moment. But on reflection, I certainly have some great dinner party stories.
The people I have met:
I have met the most extraordinary people on this journey. The ones that stand out are fellow sufferers. They are resilient, brave, honest and real. I have also met some real characters especially during my two visits to the Inpatient Unit….we got up to some funny shit in there. Nothing quite like opening your door in the morning to a fellow ‘inmate’ accusing you of looking like your family was stuck in the twin towers. Or giggling like school kids because another fellow inmate confesses to you that he has been sneaking off to the hospital cafe, helping himself, running away, and blatantly lying to the nurses about it….I can’t blame him really the food on the wards was pretty shit!
The unexpected kind gestures I have been shown:
There was the time a bunch of flowers arrived for me at the hospital from my work, the time a friend made me a whole week of meals because she knew I wasn’t feeling well. Once I heard a large truck backing into the yard and a kitset vegetable garden was unloaded – a gift from a friend. Once I booked non-refundable flights while I was unwell and booked them in the wrong direction but didn’t notice until weeks later. The company kindly refunded my ticket when I explained why I had made the mistake. A card, a gift basket, a phone call, all kind gestures that have been shown to me on my journey at some point. They don’t happen all the time and there can be large gaps between any kind gesture, but they have happened.
The new skills I have developed:
I can’t work full-time and can only work part-time when things are going ok. This means I have a lot of time to kill! I have learned to bake – like properly bake. Pastry, meringue, brioche….you name it I have mastered it. I even once made a croquembouche. You should Google that they are fucking awesome! I took up photography and became pretty ace. I did my post-grad. Took up cycling. Can now make pasta from scratch. I have extensively expanded my dinnertime repertoire. Tried my hand at gardening (I sucked at it). Had a crack at painting (also sucked). Sucking at stuff is not the point though. The point is if I was still working the 9-5 (who am I kidding I was a teacher I was working the 7 until whenever I fell asleep over my marking) I would never have had the time to explore these areas of interest.
The experiences I have had:
Once again because I don’t work full-time I have had the opportunity to go places with people when normally I would have had to have been at work. Now I know some of my readers might be thinking…’you are clearly a rich privileged person’. I want to make it clear I am not rich. But yes I am privileged. I know this because I have been in an Inpatient Unit. If you can read, write, have people in your life that love you, a roof over your head, and food in your cupboards then you are privileged. We have some money but not heaps. So if I want to go on an experience I cleverly think about how I can pay for it, or do it on the cheap. For example, this year I went on a road trip with my Mum for two weeks. She paid for it because I did jobs for her and the money was put aside for that trip. I have done two campervan relocations which we paid $1 a day. We went to Rarotonga recently because I had a friend over there we could stay with. I explore my own backyard much more and I get to spend time with my husband when he has rostered days off. Which I never was able to do in the past. We have even taken up dirt biking together.
Being hit by the mental illness shit stick. Sucks. Big time. I am not trying to minimise that in any way. But being able to see the silver lining in any situation even if it is only brief is how we can move through those really tough times.
What cool things have happened in your life because of your illness? Someone you have met, an experience you have had, maybe a new skill you have developed. I would love to know.