There are those in society so completely and fundamentally broken inside that they will never be whole. Yet they seem to survive and thrive in whatever fishbowl they happen to be swimming in. It’s amazing when we see people who met with terrible roadblocks yet somehow found a way to leap when it mattered and win at the game of life.
Without carrying my own chair, I know I am one of the few that had insurmountable challenges but somehow made it work. I will always be the first to say that I have, by no means, reached what most would call success. I set my own bar height in the high jump of life. But, despite so many things being against me, I’ve set goals and crushed them. I’ve done things that doctors said I would never do. I’ve made things happen when most would have given up.
There was a time in my life when a group of doctors told me I would never have what other regular people do. At the time, my symptoms presented as schizophrenia, and as I sat drugged, numbly looking around the plain, white office, they explained that I would never have a normal life. They elucidated that if I could manage to get out of the hospital, I would most likely only be able to survive in a halfway house. I wouldn’t be able to work and support my family. I wouldn’t be a valid member of society.
I proved them all wrong, and to this day, I still remember the smug look I had on my face as I walked past the White-Coat Brigade and into the waiting arms of my family. It took me two weeks to prove that I could manage to not only take care of myself but my family as well. A wonderfully bright young doctor believed in me, helped me get on the right medication, and pulled strings with her superiors to get me fast-tracked out of the program. She also helped me apply for Social Security Disability because when she told me I shouldn’t work, I trusted her.
I had a way to help my family, and even though my first wife and I split, and I didn’t see my kids much, I took care of them the best I could. I spent the next decade trying to survive through psychosis, self-harm, suicide attempts, depression, anxiety, and frequent panic attacks.
And I did survive.
In 2011, I met my forever wife online. The universe had a lot in store for me the next few years, as I packed up my bloated American life and moved 8500 miles to the Philippines. It would turn out to be only the beginning of my tribulations because in 2014 I tried to commit suicide again.
It was a time of pain, but also a season of rebirth. During my stay in the hospital, I had an epiphany that would drive me relentlessly for the next five years. I figured out a way to live with the daemons in my brain, quit smoking, break my addiction to Benzos, and start building my writing career. I made small improvements each day, and they added up to be huge wins.
For once in my life, I started taking responsibility for myself. Instead of blaming a god, or others who have impacted my life, I admitted that no one else but me had control over where my life was going. I got rid of my ego and stopped believing in frameworks and constructs that used to rule my life.
Yes, I’m broken, but beautifully so.
It was when I started believing in myself and my own inner beauty that I started setting goals and crushing them. No, I’m not cured of my mental illness — I am completely and utterly daft. I hear voices, and my mind is an echoey place of screams and scary noises. I am often depressed for no reason. I fight my anxiety so I can get out of bed every morning and prepare my little family for the day. I battle for space in my thoughts so I can sit and write pieces like this for Medium.
Success is getting out of bed when I want to wrap my head in a blanket and wish the world away. Success is putting down one building block in a day, so soon I can support myself and my family with my writing. Success for me is how many times I control the urge to take a knife and run it across my wrists. To you, that may seem like a brutal and unnecessary thing, but to me, every day that I don’t end my life is another win.
I am grateful for every day I can walk the path, and I pat myself on the back often. It’s not ego. It’s how I let myself know that everything I do to keep living is exactly what needs doing.
I am one of the beautifully broken.