As a kid, summers were my favorite. No school! Swimming, sweating, and playing all day. No cares in the world. Not to mention, I used to be the biggest pansy when it came to cold weather. I hated it.
Over the years, summers obviously became less special because, once you are in the real world, they are indistinguishable from every other season—besides the weather, of course.
I can safely say fall is now my favorite season. I love the weather which is cooler, and relationships seem warmer. (Except during election years.) The clothes, be they hoodies and sweats, or sweaters and leggings, are much more my style. I love long sleeves. Please, I need as much of my skin covered as possible.
Holidays are right around the corner, which brings joy and laughter, sadness and tears. Losses are contrasted painfully with the happiness of the season.
All emotions laid bare. We acutely experience each feeling. Everything is tuned up and ready to blare.
But for me, this season also brings healthy reminders of where I’ve been and what I’ve overcome.
Nine years ago, my world shattered with a diagnosis.
A terminal illness in my book. The end of the world. I’d rather die than live with a mental illness the rest of my life.
And more pills.
I hated it. I denied it. I was fine. I didn’t need medicine or anyone. I could manage on my own.
And more lies.
Not blatant lies, mind you. They were the more insidious variety. I saw mental illness as a weakness. As a blemish on my personality and personhood. It was a death sentence.
Until it wasn’t.
I eventually pulled my head out of my ass, but it took a couple of years. After introspection, I realized, this diagnosis made a lot of sense. My past—before medication—is rife with instances of mania and depression. In some ways, it’s amazing I went so long undiagnosed.
It’s also unfortunate because I love the medicated me. The unmedicated, not so much.
As stupid and dramatic as I was in the beginning, even I could see how much the medicine benefited me.
My emotions weren’t as tumultuous. Or tragic. Small things stopped ruining my week. Big things were handled better, and I experienced higher highs from being on my crazy pills.
The pills didn’t do anything to help my suicidal ideations. I accepted those as par for the course. Those were here to stay.
Until they weren’t.
My therapist walked with me through the worst bout of suicidal ideations, and now I am free. Thoughts of death sometimes enter my mind, but usually they are more observant than active. Oh, remember when this made me want to kill myself?
And I move on.
And I’ve moved on. Those thoughts no longer define me, though they allow me empathy and understanding. My pain was real, though I was fighting demons I kept alive needlessly.
Years were wasted wallowing in shame that wasn’t mine. Shame I reluctantly gave back with the help of my therapist. Shame I still deal with, though not as often.
I attached way too much of my identity to the shame from my past. It became part of me, just as I allowed my illness to morph into my personality. I used both as an excuse for poor and lazy behavior and venomous and hateful attitudes.
Now I look back and say, “Interesting.”
And I move on.
I used to go into rages, and my temper would dominate my entire day. Now, I’ve let go of a lot of my anger (which was attached to my shame).
And I move on.
I move on.
I’m moving and growing and soaring.
This time. This season. This is my favorite.