[TW: self-harm, swearing] “I want you to remember your inherent self-worth as a human being, and that your nonlinear life does not diminish this.”

 

Dearest Tara,

It’s been a hell of a year, babe, and I am so proud of you for living it. I know there were times when you didn’t think you’d see this year end, but you kept breathing and moving through the days. They weren’t all bad days either. There was laughter, love, adventure, and accomplishment. It’s been a tumultuous year for sure, but you’ve learned so much.

  • There is a tangible price to pay for social occasions – the more events, the bigger the event, the closer together with other engagements = the longer recovery period you will require. This recovery period cannot be rushed, no matter how you wish it otherwise. If you don’t want to slip into an episode, or further down the rabbit hole, you must respect your limitations. They are valid. You must accept this.
  • Cats are life! Yes, your home circumstances mean that you cannot have a feline companion until we move, but this doesn’t that your life needs to be devoid of kitties. The discovery of a newly established cat café has been a great boon for you and Mr. Z (my middle child), and it’s been a great habit to visit weekly. You both find the companionship of cats soothing, and these weekly visits are a way for you both to let off some steam and unwind through play and cuddles.
  • You are not other people. You are not comparable to anyone else. Please continue to work on not comparing your journey with that of others, both living with mental Illness and those without. You gain nothing from this exercise but grief and disappointment. Recovery is not linear, nor is it something that is ever finished; it is an ongoing process. You will fall, you will rise, you will coast, and your will cycle again. Your stability is not a failing on yourself. The only one who expects you to be perfect is you – cut that shit out.
  • Resist impulsive life decisions – during a mixed episode at the start of the year I became obsessed with getting a dog, as our girl had to go back to our local Guide Dog organization for a number of months and we were unsure whether she would be returning. It felt as if a puppy would answer all of your problems and your bipolar played up the benefits and refused to hear any negatives–a set routine around training, our family would have a furry friend again, you would have someone to encourage daily exercise … on and on. Needless to say, a puppy was the last thing that a newly diagnosed Bipolar woman needed in her life, and after a number of months of stability, the wheels started to fall off. My psychologist had gently offered to help with rehoming should I need it, after I waltzed into our session with a puppy. We took her up on her offer, and she helped rehome her to a stable and loving home. The guilt you felt was immense and deeply felt. This was a key learning experience for impulsive and unreasonable life decisions.
  • Your fat ass is glorious! You don’t owe anyone an explanation or justification of your weight. You don’t need to lose 30kgs to love your body. Losing weight won’t make you a better person. You need to have a healthy relationship with food – it is fuel, and no matter how fat you are, you need to eat daily. You’ve done a beautiful job exploring your own body, and learning to take worth in it. You are a mentor in your family for body positivity and self-love – this is important.
  • You have the capacity for self-reliance and adventure. You did something momentous this year – for the first time in your life, you left everything safe and familiar for a two night adventure, on your own. You successfully put self-management skills that you have learned into practice – you set up an itinerary which included photos of your hotel room and all the places you would be visiting, a laptop loaded with all your favourite and calming documentaries, your favourite comfy clothes and fidget toys. On this trip you relished your quiet time, alone in your hotel room and on beach walks – this quietness needs to be brought back to your daily life. You did something which many people would straight-up find too confronting – you got in the water with great white sharks. You are a brave, badass mother@cker!!!

I want you to remember your inherent self-worth as a human being, and that your nonlinear life does not diminish this. Next year is an opportunity to grow and to learn, and I want you to keep a few things in mind

  • Should you fall into a dangerous depression, remember that there are some kickass movies coming out next year – Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy II, THE DARK TOWER!!!!!!! Live for these, if nothing else
  • Keep creating and sharing art, and work on creating for the sake of creating. Let go of the pull to make your art productive; a day spent screwing around and coming away without a fantastic piece of art isn’t a loss. And keep putting yourself out there.
  • Your family and friends adore you. They love you through depressions, mixed episodes and manias. They love you when you’re dancing and singing through the days, and they love you during the days when your eyes are swollen from crying, and your arms are cut from self-harm. You don’t need to earn their love through being stable.
  • You are a mother@cking boss bitch, Goddess. Shine on!

 

Love,

Tara 2016

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