What did you want to be when you grew up?
At primary school, the boys seemed confident that they would be engine drivers, or firemen. Some of the girls already knew they wanted to be hairdressers. But then, what child of five sees their future in accountancy, or insurance, or advertising? I just knew I loved to read, and I loved to write stories; that I loved to paint and draw and was always disappointed when the teacher didn’t like what I produced.
But I had no idea what I would do after I left the big, big school; no idea at all. At least, I had no realistic idea – only daydreams.
I was asked an interesting question the other day. What would your younger self think of you now?
Well, I never became a flying princess with a dozen horses, spying for her country; I haven’t written a string of best-selling romantic novels; I didn’t marry a tall and handsome man and live in a beautiful Tudor manor we restored together.
I have done other things, of course. I’ve worked as an auditor, which is almost like spying. I’ve written two and a half (unpublished) romantic novels. I’ve married a good and kind man and raised two apparently well-adjusted daughters. I own my own business and write this blog. And I have done all this while living with bipolar disorder.
Because the one thing none of us thought about when we were dreaming of our future was that we would be coping with mental health issues.
Our world now is different from the world we grew up in. Many of the jobs and activities we do now were not invented thirty years ago. We have met different people from different backgrounds and cultures and dealt with different challenges; of which we had no concept when we were children. All these changes and meetings and challenges have formed us into the people we are now.
If you are reading this, then probably one of the biggest challenges you have faced is depression or bipolar disorder. I suspect this has brought out depths of courage, endurance and resilience you did not know you had.
We need courage to face our illness, endurance to go through the bad times, which come again and again and seem to go on forever, and resilience to somehow carry on with life and to take up the reins again in those periods where the darkness retreats for a while.
We rarely give ourselves credit for these qualities. It is easy to see ourselves as weak, maybe victims of our illness; but, especially in the bleak times, just reaching the end of each day needs valour, and is a victory in itself.
So, what would your younger self think? Would he or she be disappointed that you didn’t become an engine driver, or a flying princess? Or do you think your younger self would be proud of you?
I hope so.
A Moodscope member.