Monthly Archives: May 2017

Mental Posit(ill)vity

When speaking of mental illness, I could go along the common path of explaining how the stigma is almost as bad as the illness itself, the flaws in the mental health system, or the frustrations of being unable to provide any physical proof of an invisible sickness.

But I won’t this time.

This time I’ll say that my experience with mental illness has helped me to gain so many skills and insights that I would never have gained otherwise. Although there are many days where I am horrified by the alien voice of my own mind, feel trapped in a dangerous psychological cycle, and want nothing more than for my mind to just shut up and be ‘normal’, I still don’t wish that I was, or had experienced, anything different.

Through the many hours of therapy, self-reflection, crying, ranting, brainstorming, creative expression, and supporting of others’ mental illness;

I have become a lot more self-aware.

I have learnt about my limits, my strengths, my weaknesses, my boundaries.

I have further discovered my necessary methods of self-care, my values, and my passions.

I have grown and developed as a person in ways that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

I have learnt so much about human nature and the world around me.

I have gained mental strength and resilience.

I have learnt valuable social skills and had conversations and discussions that I will never forget.

I have discovered the experience-strengthened power of my influence on those I’m supporting.

And, for the above, my gratitude overflows.

 

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The mental health journey is a roller-coaster ride full of wonderfulness as well as terribleness, and although I feel exhausted just thinking about it, I look forward to the lessons awaiting me in my future experiences.

Parts of my brain might be messed up but I’m not a messed up person.

 

I might have mental illnesses but I’m not a mentally ill person.

They are not my definition, they’re merely one part of life’s many battles that I am willing to fight.

And I will win.

 

Letters to God

Dear God,

Reverend Bryan gave me your address so please don’t think I’ve been stalking you. That’s still stalking, isn’t it- getting your address off someone else- especially when I’ve never actually met you. Reverend Bryan says he’s met you. He says you’re really nice and I should get to know you too. He says you already want to be my friend, which I must say, God, is very trusting of you! Anyway, I think that’s cool so Reverend Bryan told me to write to you to get this friendship started.

So, I don’t know much about you, and you probably don’t know much about me either (unless Reverend Bryan has told you about me). My name is Lily, I’m ten years old, I’m red house leader at Dominion Road Primary, and everyone says that Sam Gibbons likes me because this one time he bought a giant cookie from the dairy, ate around the outside to make it heart-shaped, and gave it to me at morning tea (gross aye?).

Please write back soon and tell me about yourself. Reverend Bryan told me you live in this place called Heaven, and Sally Muffit in my class said Heaven is in the sky. So if you live in the sky, how does the postie deliver my letter to you?

Yours sincerely,

Lily.
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Dear God,

I haven’t received a letter from you yet, but maybe you’re busy. I hope your letter hasn’t been lost in the post. That happened to Sally once. She sent me a letter and I never received it and we thought maybe it accidentally fell off the back of the postie’s bike.

Reverend Bryan told me to write to you as often as possible, even if you don’t reply. He said the more I write to you, the more I’ll get to know you. I don’t really see how that works, because how do I get to know you more if you don’t write back?

When I write to Sally I tell her what I’ve been up to, so I’ll tell you too. On Saturday Mum was grumpy again, so Dad took me out for ice cream. I chose my usual goody gumdrops and Dad chose his usual orange chocolate chip. Whenever we choose those flavours, Dad always says that we’re “true kiwis”, which is weird because I didn’t think birds ate ice cream.  On Monday Sally told me that she talks to you about anything at all and that I can too, but I don’t think she’s right because me and you don’t even know each other. No offense or anything.

Yours sincerely,

Lily.

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Dear God,

Why aren’t you replying? You better watch out or I’ll have to use Mum’s grumpy face on you. I’m not going to tell you anything else about me until you tell me about you.

Please write back soon. Miss Wilson taught us a new word today: “mysterious”. You’re very mysterious, God.

Yours sincerely,

Lily.

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Dear God,

You sure are mysterious. Today I couldn’t see my maths book properly because my tears were getting in the way. Reverend Bryan told me I should tell you about Mum. I wouldn’t tell you if he hadn’t told me to, but everybody always does what Reverend Bryan says.

So, Mr Silent Man, Mum is getting grumpier and grumpier. She made me not see my maths book properly because she threw my favourite Christmas bowl at the wall at breakfast this morning when I forgot to wash it. I think my breath stopped when she did it.

If Dad read this letter, he would laugh and tell me to stop whining like the toddler over our back fence! At least mum didn’t throw the bowl at me! She’d never do that. It was my fault for not washing my bowl anyway.

Are you going to reply?

Yours sincerely,

Lily.

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Dear God,

You’re nice to talk to even though you don’t reply. I need to tell someone that mum threw my milo cup at me today when I left it on the coffee table, but I can’t tell anyone who can see my tears. Reverend Bryan told my class today we can ask you to help us with anything and you always will. For the millionth time, this doesn’t make any sense since you don’t even reply to my letters, but Reverend Bryan is never wrong so I’m going to trust him anyway. He better be right.

My shoulder is bruised but I think the bruise on my heart is bigger. Can your heart even bruise?

Whenever mum gets grumpy and my tears come, Dad teaches me how to forgive other people when they do things I don’t like. I’m sure mum didn’t even mean it because she didn’t say sorry. I don’t say sorry when I didn’t mean to do the thing I did, even though mum and dad always tell me I have to say sorry whether it was an accident or not. There’s no way she will do it again.

Yours sincerely,

Lily.

 

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Dear God,

You’re a better friend than Sally and Esme, because when I tell you stuff you don’t run away from me and tell everyone that I’m a liar. Sally and Esme asked me why I was late to school today, and Dad and Reverend Bryan say to always tell the truth, so I did. I told them that mum told me in a very loud voice to get out of the house this morning before I had even had my Nutella on toast. Her loud voice made me shake a bit so I decided to do what she said, and then she locked the door and never unlocked it again. So I walked to school, which took a million years.

If you’re a better friend than my best friends, then I suppose that makes you my best friend now.

Yours sincerely,

Lily.

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Dear God,

I’m writing this letter in the car and I think I am only half-awake so I’m sorry if you can’t read my handwriting. Actually, this could just be a dream. But if this is real, I’m in the car and it’s dark outside and my eyes keep wanting to close. When Dad woke me up a few minutes ago, he whispered at me to choose my favourite toys and books quickly and then quietly go outside and get in the car. I keep asking him if he’s okay because his eyes are red and he’s breathing funny, but he isn’t talking to me. I don’t know where we are going and I don’t know when we are going to go back home.

I’m kind of glad that mum isn’t coming though.

Yours sincerely,

Lily.

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Dear God,

I just found the last letter I wrote to you under the seat of the car when I was cleaning it out this afternoon. I never ended up posting it. But I know now that I don’t need to post my letters to you for you to get them. In fact, I don’t even have to write them down! I can just think them up and you know what I’m thinking. But I thought I’d just write one for fun.

That terrible night was just over three years ago now. It’s kind of weird that I haven’t seen mum in that long. The apartment that Dad and I live in is nice because it has a swimming pool I can use whenever I like. But I have a question for you, God: why do you make some cities more interesting than others? Hamilton is so boring compared to Auckland. I miss Reverend Bryan too, and I sometimes wonder whether he misses me back.

But life is better now, because you’re my best friend. Even though I don’t write paper letters to you anymore, I write them in my heart. And I know you get them because you answer them by looking after me and keeping me safe. I wasn’t safe before, but now I am. And I know you’re always right beside me, even when my tears land on my maths book. I just know it. I can feel it.

When I think about life back in Auckland, I think about how lucky I was to have you to talk to. Even though I didn’t know it at the time, I now know that you were always loving Dad and I, even when it felt like Mum wasn’t.

You probably already know this, but you are really awesome, God.

Yours sincerely,

Lily.

 

 

–Cara Adler

What causes sunrises and sunsets?

via Site Settings ‹ Beautiful Mess — WordPress.com

Recently, on a very early, chilly Christchurch morning, while self-pitifully heaving my hefty suitcase out of my accommodation towards the bus stop, I was stopped in my tracks by a magnificent fire brewing in the sky, brushing the wavy clouds with its rich pink-orange glaze. I was completely and utterly flabbergasted by the natural beauty staring me right in the face. Once again, Mother Nature had kindly but powerfully reminded me that my self-pity and tiny little useless worries are unnecessary and irrational. The reason? Because this:

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Enough said.

How can something so natural be so powerful and beautiful? My human desire to always be in control cannot comprehend the fact that the magnificence surrounding me is due to no human influence. It is mind-boggling how this amazingness is just nature doing its thing.

Every time I have a ‘wow- moment’ with creation my whole life immediately gets put into perspective. The beauty and power around me disintegrates my anxieties, frustrations, obligations, and hurts, re-fueling me with a calmer, kinder, more truthful life perspective.

This, I believe, is the true power of nature.

This, I believe, is Our Creator’s intention of these blessings of natural grace and wonder.

While my eyes were feasting on this delicious sight, I couldn’t help but wonder how sunrises and sunsets actually occur. What is the science behind this daily blessing of radiance?

So I made enquiries with my mate Google* (prepare yourself for a nerdy sciencey bit).

Apparently, we see light and colour in the sky thanks to a phenomenon called “scattering”. When the sun is high in the sky during the day, the lesser amount of air that the sunlight passes through causes the short wave-length of blue and violet colours to be scattered by air molecules much more than the other colours in the light spectrum. Therefore, we see blue on a clear day. However, when the sun is on the horizon during sunrise and sunset, there is more atmosphere, which causes the short wave-length blue and violet colours to be scattered by molecules even more, to the point where they are scattered away from our eyes. Therefore, we see more of the other colours in the spectrum- red, orange, and yellow.

(You may exhale. The nerdy sciencey bit is over).

“Speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know the hand of the Lord has done this? In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of  all mankind.” –Job 12:8-10

*Sunset Source: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071108135522.htm