Accepting What Is, Part I

At the end of 2012, I finally finished a full novel for the first time. I had started and abandoned well over fifteen novels by that time, and I was so proud of that one that I cried when I finished it. I told all the people who meant the most to me, and basked under the feeling of accomplishment. I was encouraged by the way the people I loved were proud of what I had done. So I did it again.

My writing got attention from readers, it connected me to new friends in the author community, and it revived my love of blogging as a platform for sharing my journey, my story, and my experiences. It made so much of who I am possible - it gave me confidence and renewed purpose. It lifted depression, helped me find focus in a life I wasn't happy with.

It gave me a way to believe in myself and what I wanted my life to look like, what I wanted for my family, my children, the relationship I was in at the time. I had a vision.

But in some ways, writing that first novel was the first step in a process that tore my world apart. The independence it gave me, the confidence boost I took from that, and time so much writing took away from other things ... changed everything about my life as it was. It changed how my friends and family saw what I was doing, changed how my children felt about the time it took and results it brought, changed how my relationship functioned. It wasn't healthy in the first place, but the changes in me made the deterioration faster.

I tried to hold on. Couldn't.

Eventually, new issues brought old issues back to the surface, and as my depression symptoms deepened, my anxieties worsened, and my mental wellness became something I struggled to cope with in healthy ways, I had to face a hard reality. I was dealing with mental illness, the same kind that filled my mother's mouth with deadly prescription pills when I was fifteen years old. The same kind that forced her to bite me as I fought to dig those pills from her throat.

My daughters look like me. They act like me in so many ways, see so many things the same way I do. We're all different from each other too, of course, but we're so much the same in so many ways.

And no matter what I have survived, what I continue to survive, or how hard I have to battle through every day of my life, I will never make my children feel what I have felt. I will never allow them to feel abandoned by their mother, unwanted by the world, or unworthy of sticking around for.

And yet ... it's there. The darkness that rolls over me, that whispers in my ear, that brings tears to my eyes, that keeps me up at night and exhausts me during the day. Mental illness is real.

Sometimes, it makes it too hard to function. Sometimes I can't think straight, can't feel straight, can't focus. Some days, my hands won't stop trembling and my insides feel like a leaf-covered branch in a stiff wind that won't let up.

Days like that ... days like today ... I love my children all the more, because it is my dedication to them that pulls me out of bed, urges me to open my laptop, forces me into the kitchen. When I dose out their medications, I am reminded to take my own. When I prepare food for them, tasting it as I prep makes sure I eat.

They give me the purpose that allows me to write; they give me a reason to function despite disabling illness.

And they'll be where I get the courage to write the next part of this series.

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