Disclaimer: The below article is one person’s experience with medication. Each individual’s experience with medication may be different. It is important to consult with your health care professional before making changes to your medication intake.
I heard a story about a girl who was born at sea. She learned to walk on sea legs and then her parents moved her to land and she spent her youth walking unsteadily on land, eventually understanding that the ground doesn’t shift and that the landscape doesn’t change. Every sunrise and sunset she longed to go back to the sea. It wasn’t that she couldn’t live on land – of course she could. It was more that she had been born in another place, and that place owned her soul; always whispering to her to come back home.
Right now, I’m working on being present: in my body, in this moment, and in all of the feelings this moment brings. As I sit with my feelings of restlessness and loss, I think I, too, belong to the sea.
I think one of the most frustrating things about “coming out” about my mental illness is the fact that people do care. They want me to be ok, they don’t want my illness to take my life away. Totally understandable… but also frustrating. It’s not just a choice between being healthy or not; it’s between being medicated or being me. My medication blocks the dark parts. Yes. Mostly. It keeps me from diving into the black waters of hopelessness, but it also takes me miles from the sea that I know. Even now in my inland village, I still have sand in my shoes. The sand is a constant reminder: I am not someone who was made to live on the shore.
The medication also dims my light, whittling away at the width and the depth of me. All those things that make me who I am? Those are partly my illness, too, and when the dark parts are erased, so are the good things: my ability to write, my creativity, how I think outside the box and the perspective with which I see life. The medication separates me from the world most real to me; it takes away my water.
Sure, I won’t drown if I stay on the shore but I also won’t live fully.
Today, I sit with my feelings of loss, holding the choice of embracing being fully me with all that entails, both the good and the bad; or learning contentment in a life on dry land, miles from the shore’s lullabies. I know no matter what I choose, I will disappoint someone.
“There are so many dark and dangerous things in the water, Jones!” they say. “I can’t understand why you would want to risk it!”
My heart breaks in reply: the beauty of being weightless, the way the sunlight dances on prisms of waves, the sense of being one with the waves, the world of wonder and color beneath the surface. To me, the risk is in losing my sea forever, and with it, my words. As a writer, can I breathe without words? Can a girl with sea legs learn to be happy in a village where waves crashing on shores are only cloudy dreams slipping away with morning light?
The water itself isn’t the enemy, but a life spent at sea can be dangerous. My loved ones prioritize my safety and want me inland, untouchable by hurricanes and roaring winds. My wild and restless heart rebels, longing to run toward the smell of salty water, shed my medication, and dive in.
Today, I am still stuck between two worlds: pills in my hand, making the choice every day to forsake the water or take to it. It’s hard to feel that conflict.
But here I sit.
And that’s ok.
Writer: Joni Martin
Joni describes herself as a writer, dreamer, instigator, and a geek. She is a non-profit consultant by day and a writer by night. You can find more of her writing in various places online as well as in her blog Hatch* She is also on Twitter and Facebook.