Remembering Who I Am

It is difficult, to almost impossible, to remember who I am when struck with depression, or indeed, anything that takes my mental health off an even keel.  Any number of the issues caused by the mental illnesses which plague me at times, make me forget just who Cate Reddell is.  That in itself is sad, although usually, at the time I admit I am not aware of it happening.

I become a shadow of me.  Maybe the clothes are left on the body, but the body is gone.  The face might be there but the happiness in the smile and the life in the eyes are nowhere to be seen.  If you only know the ‘surface’ me, you could get away with thinking I am still completely there.  But those few who love me and really know me, know that this is simply a shell of who I am.  Mental Illness has stolen from them, who I am.

The recent weeks have been difficult for me, as I have told you previously.  I have felt sad, lonely, depressed, jealous, angry and even at times, bitter.  Those feelings have been what have made who I have been in that time.  They have crowded out any feeling of being loved, happy, grateful…  and maybe a little bit silly.  Today I am reminded that these later feelings symbolise who I am when my mental illness gives me the chance.

I still feel sad, but not plagued by it.  I have seen a glimpse of the real me again, and I welcome her back.  It doesn’t mean the hard days are over.  They’re not.  I have more to work through.  I’m quite clear on that, but they don’t have to rule my life.  I can let ‘me’ shine again.

It has been said before that I can be a little bit ridiculous.  It’s true.  Actually when either alone, or in the company of people I know truly love and accept me, I can be totally ridiculous.  But let me be clear. I don’t see myself as ridiculous, or even just silly.  I’m just being me.  But I acknowledge that I can be seen this way, and that in the past I have lost some important relationships, because those people were unable to understand this side of me.

I so wish those people had celebrated the ridiculous in me, because it is worth celebrating.  It’s not only who I am but it’s who I once was, perhaps even as a little girl (when it was allowed).  But adults (particularly) have (in my opinion) a bad habit of knocking the ridiculous out of the child, let alone the adult who tries to display that trait.  In an extreme attempt, doctors tried to knock it out of me with Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) (see On Being A Little ‘Weird’).  Shame on them.

To give you an example of the ridiculous I am referring to, in the past few days I have changed my personal Facebook profile picture to that of an Okapi.

Image credit: Wikipedia.com

An Okapi, so I have learnt, was initially thought to be a magical, mythical creature assembled from the best parts of the other animals around it.  I like that.  I could also see immediately, that by its physical resemblance, I could liken it (a small way, at least) to having Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).  My thinking comes from our susceptibility to take on the personality traits of the people we are with.  We do that because of our unstable sense of self.

But in my ridiculous thinking I became concerned for this particular Okapi, and this is what I wrote on Facebook a few nights ago:

“Don’t you feel a little sorry for him?”

(Reply by a friend) “I do. I think he must have some kind of identity crisis going on looking like that. What he needs to do is embrace the fact that he is different and be proud of it.”

“I totally agree. I was thinking he might need some therapeutic help to embrace his individuality. Either that or perhaps positive affirmations. My real worry is whether he might be victim to bullying for being a little different from the crowd. That’s why I have adopted him as my FB profile friend. Anything to support him.”

I recognised immediately just who of my friends could recognise, and appreciate, the ridiculous Cate.  That made the post infinitely worthwhile in itself.  Friends like that will always be treasured.

Why am I telling you this? Because for some weeks I had forgotten how to be the ridiculous Cate, and I realised that this was almost more sad than the depression itself.  That person is who I am.  When I’m depressed it is impossible to remember how to be me.

Does anyone else notice that I can’t be me?  I’m not sure.  I suspect that the few who know me really well, and love me in spite of my silliness, can see if I am just trying to mimic her, but I also suspect that to most of the world, they think they are just seeing me.  That too, is sad.

I read a this statement today:

Image credit: Facebook  – Bliss Sisters

I love that, and it’s what I’m going to try to do.  Maybe if I work hard enough on it, I can drive away the depression.  I am still me, mental illnesses and all, but it doesn’t have to be all of me.  There is much more to me than mental illness… thankfully.

“To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow – this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.”

~Elizabeth Gilbert

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6 thoughts on “Remembering Who I Am

  1. John Richardson

    Sometimes you just have to float like a butterfly! Protect the child inside you Cate and keep the light on, sunshine!

  2. Cate…I’m not sure if I would necessarily call your trait ridiculous – more fun-loving-letting your hair down – anyone who doesn’t appreciate this has their head up some weird idea of social constraints and how we SHOULD behave. I also tend to be a bit silly from time to time. You could even say I am acting half my age. But, sometimes, to feel our mood on top rather than low is so overwhelming, I like to go with the excitement. I love what you say about the Okapi.

    I hope you start to feel better very sooooon

  3. Thank you Cat. Actually I don’t see it as ridiculous. It’s normal… for me. Always has been and I hope it always will be, because you’re right, that otherwise some things would simply be too overwhelming.

  4. ” But let me be clear. I don’t see myself as ridiculous, or even just silly. I’m just being me.”
    For most of my life I thought of myself as ridiculous, overreactive, and strange… because everyone told me I was. It was only once I embraced my mental health that I realized, that to me, when I made a big deal out of something it wasn’t because I loved drama, it was because IT WAS a big deal to me. I also learned my ridiculousness was my creativity, and my strange would turn out to be my depression, without which, I could have never understood my kids and their mental health issues to the level I have been able to. We are all of us, every last one, EXACTLY who we were made and meant to be. It is not for us to judge when we truly don’t know what it is / was that someone else has just been through…. who among us is perfect? – Thankfully NOBODY.
    Good on you for accepting yourself! It’s only when we accept ourselves that others will understand that we ARE acceptable.
    YOU ROCK!

    1. Thank you so much for your words. They mean the world to me. You’re so right and I suspect we all need that reminder. As I said in another comment, the ridiculous is simply my normal and I am finally learning to embrace that rather than hide it away. It makes such a difference. 🙂

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