The challenge: “Rewrite one important moment of your life and theorize where you might be today based on the change you make.”
Here’s a fact many people don’t know about me: I am part of the 1-2.5 per cent of Canadians with bipolar disorder. This upcoming October marks another anniversary of my diagnosis, and I always consider it a time for reflection. Am I where I want to be in my recovery? Will I continue to be successful in managing my disorder? What would my life be like if I didn’t have a mental illness?
I remember the first time I held the small, pink pill in the palm of my hand. I counted to ten and tossed the medication into my mouth, following it with a gulp of water to wash away its gritty texture.
This daily routine followed me into my adult life. I have been greeting each morning with medication since I was fifteen years-old, but it wasn’t until I was eighteen that I began to speak openly and unapologetically about my life with mental illness.
I resisted medication for three years out of fear it would stifle my creativity. I dropped out of high school, was hospitalized twice and tried half a dozen pill combinations before finding one that worked. I finally began to get better just as I was reaching twenty years-old, which led me to university and then CreComm.
Where would I be if I didn’t put my faith into recovery? What would have happened if I continued to refuse medication? Would I be a college student? I don’t want to think about it, even if that’s what this assignment is technically supposed to be, because I’m sure my life would be the opposite of what it is. I don’t think I would be following my dream of studying communications, nor would I have the same long-term goals I currently have set for myself. Overall, I would be a completely different person.
My mental illness may not be my entire identity, but it did play an enormous role in the person I have become. It created a love for the written word and desire to be a writer I’m not sure I would have otherwise. I read of women turning pain into art and decided I wanted to do the same. I now aspire for a job in the media because I want a platform where I can publicly address the misconceptions of mental illness.
I don’t think this would be my life if the struggles of my teenage years ceased to exist, and I am so incredibly grateful they did.
Sidenote: I felt a lot of trepidation prior to writing this post, but my history with mental illness continues to be one of the most important events in my life. Besides, I feel like part of being a writer is consistently exposing oneself and being uncomfortable. I figured this Blog Challenge gave me an opportunity to test this theory out on a public forum.