I am who I am, everything that I have done in my life has contributed to make me. When you find out that you are living with any form of illness, it can very easily change your perception of your self and your life. I know it did for me. Long before I even considered that I might have had a mental illness I was diagnosed with photo sensitive epilepsy, it ruined my life.
Or rather I should say, I let it ruin my life. I saw this diagnosis as being the end of everything, epilepsy, I foresaw a life of medication, fits and being different. I even felt ashamed of it, I hid it and hid from it. I also went out of my way to prove I did not have it, not by being sensible, I went off the rails instead. Drink, drugs, standing in nightclubs staring at strobe lighting, daring the epilepsy to get me. I let it consume me.
Factor this in to my present but unknown mental problems and I was seriously putting myself in danger. I was out of control, I hated myself so much that nothing bad that happened to me was ever bad enough. On the other hand, good things were to be destroyed. It was to be twenty five hard years before I would see the light, twenty five years of destruction. All because of an undiagnosed illness and the stigma I felt about a diagnosed one.
I labelled myself defective, I saw only the negatives and amplified them in my mind. I hated myself and the world for letting this happen to me, common sense did not apply. I was damaged, broken, a reject. I took this and hid it at the core of my being, I created another me, based on lies who the world would see. The lies and the hatred, the pain and despair only going on to feed my other illness, eating away at everything I did, proving to myself how pathetic I was.
The stigma of epilepsy feed my mental illness well, I can see that now. My illness already had made me insecure about myself and how I related to others. I needed reassurance that I was normal, I had value, that I was lovable. The epilepsy diagnosis made these things much more important, I did not know how to feel and then I did not want to feel anything. It is no wonder so many people disliked me, I went out of my way to be disliked. If nobody was close to me then I was right about hating myself, if I treated people badly then I must be a bad person.
Finally learning to accept that I have two illnesses, that can feed of each other was not easy. However finding out that I have a personality disorder helped. It explained why I acted how I did, although I do not blame the illness for my actions. I accept responsibility for my actions, with the mitigation that I was ill. I do not hide my illnesses, I live with them, I try hard to live in harmony with them.
When people say I am looking good, I feel good about myself. I know that often how I appear on the outside is often better than I feel on the inside. I like to think that if I make the effort to look better on the outside, it is a projection of how I want to be on the inside. Instead of lying about who I am, I now show the world who I want to be. I do not consider myself as any form of role model, far from it, but I do hope that people will judge me for who I am not what I have.
I used to worry that if I did not look ill, people would think me a fraud. People seem to have this perception of what being ill is, this includes those with the illness. I want to prove to myself that I can live with my illnesses, that I can be the person I want to be. I want to be able to correct people when they say “you look great, so glad you got over your problems”, with “I am feeling great, I learned to live with my problems”.