Not Like The Others

I am short and, even when I count calories and regularly visit the gym, there is a softness to my body that I sometimes love and sometimes hate. I have pale skin and freckles and have gotten the same tan lines from the same style tank top so many years in a row that it’s now a permanent mark on my skin. I have reddish brown hair underneath the dye (I think). My eyes are blue, or green, or gray depending on mood and weather and shirt color. I am a fan of the shape of my legs but not of the shape of my butt. I have tattoos and a pierced nose and ears. I wax my eyebrows and shave my armpits but can go months without bothering with my legs.

There are a hundred things that make up the outside of who I am.

I have psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. I have a mood disorder most often classified as rapid cycling bipolar ii. I deal with anxiety and panic attacks sometimes. I have polycystic ovaries. I’m an addict and an alcoholic with four years sober at the end of this month.

There are a thousand little idiosyncratic bothers and ills and beauties and strengths that make up my body and a thousand more that make up my mind.

I have a husband and a daughter and siblings and parents. I have friends and acquaintances and enemies. I have a job and a hobby and a dream and unique ambitions. There are millions of cells that come together in a one-of-a-kind way and form every facet of what I am. There is a lifetime of experiences and relationships, good and bad, which have shaped and created the person that I am today.

I am wholly my own, I am completely unique. I am unlike you in ways that are far too many to count.

And that’s an important thing to know and to remember. Well, not so much that I am different than you, but that you are unique from anyone and everyone else.

I don’t take medication for my psoriasis and have no prescription for the arthritis. I prefer to try topical ointments and natural remedies. I’ve heard dozens of suggestions on what to do and things to try. This oil worked for that girl and this diet helped that guy and that prescription was a lifesaver for that other person. None of them are me though so I take it with a grain of salt, maybe try the things that make some sense for my person, and keep doing my thing.

I am currently not on medication for my mood disorder. I have, in the past, been on various things to help stabilize, to ease anxiety, to lessen depression. This phase of my life, however, it makes more sense to go medication free. Some people tell me they couldn’t imagine living without their medication. Some people tell me they couldn’t imagine ever medicating what is, to them, their personality. I understand both schools of thought but I am not attached to either one. There are millions of people with mental illnesses who have almost as many ways of dealing with it. None of them are me, though, so I listen and take away what is helpful and ignore that which is not.

I went to rehab as a means of achieving sobriety initially and, after a relapse, went with a white knuckle will power approach. I have never attended AA meetings or had a sponsor or used a maintenance drug or many other things that the addiction experts say are necessary to maintain sobriety. But I don’t expect you to be like me. I don’t anticipate that all of the choices that I’ve made are necessarily going to work for you.

And that’s why it’s important for you to know and to remember that you are 99.9% unlike most any other person you’re ever going to meet. Because the entire world is going to tell you things that they expect to work for you to fix the things that are “wrong” with you. And they’re mostly going to tell you the things that worked to fix them. But you’re not them. And maybe some of their things will work for you and maybe some of their things won’t.

Personally I like to research a wide range of options and solutions and then intuitively decide which to try based on what fits into my lifestyle and what feels right to me. I try a few things until I find something that works. You might be completely different. You might choose one doctor and do exactly as they tell you in all matters. You might listen to your mom. You might not be ready to try and fix or talk about anything.

And all of that is okay. There are billions of pieces of you, fragments and bits and stories and thoughts, and all of them belong solely to you. They are yours to defend, to triumph, and to repair. Your journey will look unlike anyone else’s.

I share a lot in this blog and on my Facebook page about what I think is important and what has worked for me. Listen if you like, try a thing or two if it feels right to you, but mostly remember that you are a being entirely unlike anyone else in the world and if it took a methadone program for you to get sober, a strong medication for you to find mental stability, or if you’re still trying to figure out what exactly is going to finally work for you, it’s all okay.

Don’t give up when someone else’s successes does not become your own.

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