Today, the Ides of March, is the eighth anniversary of my hospitalization. One week from today is my birthday.
I was almost twenty-one when I finally had myself hospitalized, and that was when my mom finally accepted my illness for what it is, but the various conversations we had last week definitely proved that she still doesn’t know much about it. I’m not sure why, I’m happy to tell anyone just about anything about my mental civil war, if it’ll help them understand those of us with mental illnesses better. Mom doesn’t ask much, and I guess I don’t tell enough, or the right things. Even when I do explain I’m not sure I’m doing a very good job of it. I figure if I had a kid with an illness, I’d do all the research there is to do on said illness in order to help them as much as possible, but denial is a pretty powerful force.
I’ve been watching the old animated X-Men cartoon from the 90’s for the last couple days. I loved that show then, and I love it now, and I keep mentally equating mental illness with mutation. So much stigma and misinformation, hatred and fear, it’s really not all that different.
I always wanted so badly for my mom to accept me and the things I liked, but she definitely disapproved of the X-Men, and my favorite character, Rogue. I realized in the last couple days of marathon cartoon watching part of what I love so much about Rogue- she’s untouchable. Between her ability to absorb other people’s energy and powers, and her flight and super strength, she was the paragon of invincibility I always wanted to be. I would be safe if I was Rogue. I could’ve protected my siblings and flown us all to safety somewhere, or I could’ve left on my own and been safe.
Mom took one look at Rogue and said she didn’t want me watching shows with “women with fake boobs like that.” She did watch an episode with us once, but of course it had to be a really weird episode, “X-Ternally Yours,” where Gambit had to go back to the bayou and deal with weirdness there. Mom didn’t approve. Of course, it was on after I got home from school and long before she got home, so she couldn’t stop me from watching it, but I had to keep everything secret. I’ve done that for a long time. So many things were kept secret from mom because I knew she wouldn’t approve and I wanted that approval so desperately.
When I saw my therapist Thursday, we talked about this, and about how I need to love myself for me, and not base my self-worth in the approval of others. The past happened, but I don’t have to let it control me.
Tomorrow should be a day of celebration for me. Eight years since I was hospitalized, though I’ve had a lot more ER visits in the last year than ever before. I feel like I’ve lost my way at times, and right now I don’t really know which way is up, but it’s still been eight years.
It’s been a long, confusing journey, but there’s still a lot left to go. Every time I think I’m going to give up if something happens, that thing happens and I find myself going, “Yeah, okay, I don’t have time for this shit” and keep going. I have no idea where this inner strength is coming from, but maybe it’s Rogue after all. Sometimes it takes mutant powers to keep going when you’re fighting a civil war, after all.