Mental Illness Doesn’t Have To Be A Terrible Thing

by: Anonymous Author

drug-addict

A few months ago I read the article “Living With Bipolar Disorder” and it hit so close to home. It encouraged me to write this and share my own story. It has taken me a few months to write it (well, more like 28 years and a few months) but, I am finally ready.

I grew up without a dad. It’s not that he died or anything, but he just never really existed in my life. I have no memory of him other than that I hated him for not being there. I hated him for not being normal. Dad has suffered with alcohol and substance abuse since before I was even born.

It has consumed his entire life. There were stints of “sobriety” here and there, but never long enough for me to remember any positive memories.  My only memories are of my mom crying so much when I was little. She was so alone and angry with him but she never put him down. She would only ever say things like, “he’s really sick” or “he’s not well” and her favorite “mental illness is a terrible thing.”

And it was a terrible thing. It was terrible not knowing if he was roaming the streets or if he was even alive. It was terrible not having any traditions with him. It was terrible feeling anger and resentment for someone I hardly knew. But most of all, it was terrible whenever the phone rang from the mental hospital letting us know dad was there. I never wanted to go see him.

Every birthday and every holiday gone by was another reason to hate him even more. I hated the excuse of mental illness – because thats all it was to me, an excuse.

I made it a point to roll my eyes at my mom every time she said the words “mental illness”. We would have fights about it because I couldn’t believe it was an illness. To me it was a choice to pick drugs and alcohol over me and my mom.

I spent the majority of my life with this unwavering opinion. This opinion and this hatred was like an illness in itself. I was sick of feeling so trapped by these feelings of bitterness, so the last time we got the call, I decided to go see him— and it changed everything for me.

I walked into the Behavioral Institute or “mental hospital” where dad was currently residing. I brought a list with me of things to say while I was there. Questions, complaints, regrets. But when I saw him, the list disappeared. He looked so sad and lost amongst his peers of mentally ill patients in the room. He looked so ashamed and embarrassed to be there. But most of all, he looked helpless. I knew the last thing he needed was a list of topics to discuss. I don’t know what came over my heart in the moment but I just declared to show him love. I was kind, loving, patient, interested in everything he had to say, I listened to him, smiled with him, and started to create memories – our first.  I acted as though we were the best of friends and not strangers. I realized that I didn’t know if this could possibly be the last time I saw him, and if it was, I didn’t want it to be a terrible thing.   I had had enough terrible things. This meeting wasn’t going to be one of them.

Instead, I wanted this to be a good thing – and it was.

Once I made the choice to be kind and loving instead of bitter and angry, I was set free. I only wished he could have the feeling of being set free too. Mental illness can hold you captive and hostage for years until you seek recovery…and sometimes even then you’re still never fully free from your addictions and demons.

The look on his face was of light and also of shock. I’ll bet he was ready for me to scold him and cry about my lifetime without a dad. And so when I didn’t, something wonderful happened inside of him.

It was the greatest gift I could ever give to this perfect stranger. And I’m thankful I have at least this one good memory with my father.

As of today, I don’t know where my dad is. He checked himself out of the hospital (because the mental healthcare system is f%$ked up and it happens everyday) so there is no way of knowing where he is. I have to wait for the call from the hospital the next time he surfaces.

But while I wait, (like I waited all my life)… at least now I can say I have a happy memory with him. It’s as much of a healing process for me as the one he needs to experience for himself on a deeper level. I just have to keep the faith that someday, he will.

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The Inner Beauty Nail Polish Collection

by: Alicia M. Blanco

innerbeautylogo
This is so exciting! After meeting and working with some amazing at-risk youth for the Miss Inner Beauty Pageant, I felt really inspired by them. As you know, I am a huge fan of The Secret, the law of attraction, vision boards, words of affirmation, and all that jazz!

Sooo, I collaborated with Super Star Nail Lacquer and got to name FOUR colors!

The names I chose in this collection are positive words of inner beauty traits and affirmations – (because the words we say are so powerful!) ((how many times have you heard me say that by now?)).

We have:
– “I Am Happy” – Pink
– “I Am Bold” – Purple
– “I Am Creative” – Blue
– “I Am Confident” – Red

So whenever someone asks you, “what color is that?” your response will have to be, “I Am HAPPY”, “I Am BOLD”, “I Am CONFIDENT” or “I Am CREATIVE”… #boom

And, when you have your nails done and you’re feeling good, you will glance down and remind YOURSELF that you carry one of those inner beauty traits with you.

All of the proceeds from your purchase will go towards funding next year’s Miss Inner Beauty Pageant.

Also, just so you know, these little girls are feeling pretty cool knowing there are nail polishes out there that are being named after them… #cute

***(This collection is DBP, formaldehyde and tolune free) – Aka 3-FREE… Aka not bad for you. ;)*** Products are vegan friendly and toxic free.

Thanks for the support!!

UPDATE: From the initial post date, we sold out of our polishes and made amazing profit for this years pageant. If you are one of my customers and supporters, THANK YOU for supporting inner beauty and words of affirmation!

A Random Act of Kindness That Made Me Cry

by: Alicia M. Blanco

RAKshoes

Last night while I was scrolling through Facebook before going to sleep, I came across my friend’s status and I need to share it with you:

“I just seen a kid about 18 or 19 with no shoes on that came up to me at the gas station. I’m thinking he was coming over to bum money. He said, ‘that’s a really nice car, I just wanted to tell you that.’ I said thanks. He had a sign hanging from his neck that read ‘hungry’… So I offered him cash to get food and he said, ‘no thanks but I will take one of those bags of chips you have on your seat if you don’t mind.’ I said in my head, wow that’s never happened…So I asked him, ‘where are your shoes?’ and he said, ‘my dad has to wear them to work because it’s the only pair we have.’ For some reason in that very moment I didn’t even think twice and I took off my new Olympic Retro 6s and gave them to him. He was in shock and started to tear up. I told him thank you. Because its people like you that makes me see the world in a different light.”

Cue the tears.

I couldn’t hold them back when I saw this! It’s the stories like THIS that make me see the world in a different light…

My faith in humanity is restored more and more everyday.

This is the perfect example of how a Random Act of Kindness can change someone’s life. And by the looks of it, it seems like both lives were changed through this.

My friend Bobby who posted this story is a great guy. And after reading about his random act of kindness, my respect for him has certainly increased.

I started The Random Act of Kindness Challenge (#TRAKchallenge #trakCHANGE) two weeks ago and I’m so moved by stories like this that are surfacing— and the feeling I have in my heart about lives changing around us is truly indescribable.

When I started The Wave, it was my mission to conquer depression and promote a massive movement in the way we treat one another. I believe with all my heart that all it takes is one person to do something nice for someone else, and from there it will start a huge wave of people paying it forward and spreading the kindness that was bestowed upon them…

Before you know it, the wave will land on someone who is spiritually barefoot, feeling numb, alone, depressed, even suicidal. Your kindess can literally save a life.

So go out today and do something extra beautiful for someone else. You’ll begin to feel so much joy and beauty from within.

8 Traits of an Inner Beauty Queen

by: Alicia M. Blanco

innerbeautypageant

This past month, I’ve been watching a huge dream of mine come true right before my very eyes. The “Miss Inner Beauty Pageant” kicked off this month and it’s my new baby!

I’ve dreamt of a pageant that’s all about INNER beauty for years. In all my years in the pageant world I can honestly say I’ve been wildly and abundantly blessed because I’ve met some of the most beautiful people (not JUST women by the way) that the world has to offer.

And I’m not talking about the physically beautiful people; I’m talking about the people who radiate from within. From genuine pageant fans and supporters from all over the world (shout out to John Baker!), to outstanding pageant directors and contestants. I gravitate towards the good ones. Thank you, God!

Sometimes though, the women competing who naturally and effortlessly possess that sense of INNER BEAUTY don’t always “win” the big crown in the pageant. It’s heartbreaking to watch someone with so much of that inner beauty I love so much, walk away empty handed.

So that’s why The Miss Inner Beauty pageant means the WORLD to me. The girls range from 7- 18yrs old and are part of the Department of Children and Family Services foster care system. This pageant is an opportunity to increase their self-esteem and encourage them to focus on their inner beaut traits throughout their lives rather than the outer. How awesome is it that they are learning these things at such young and impressionable ages!?

And even though I was coaching and mentoring them this week, I think I was the one who walked away with some new valuable lessons.

In watching and listening to THEM, I came up with this list of 8 traits of an inner beauty queen:

1. She accepts herself just as she is. – The girls were each given a compact mirror to look into and then tell everyone in the group what they loved about themselves. One contestant said, “I love my glasses,” and, “I see a happy girl.” Another said, “My front teeth have a gap, but I like it. It makes me unique.” She’s 8.

2. She doesn’t compete with others. – It may be a pageant competition, but there was absolutely no sense of competing amongst this group. I watched as they made suggestions to one another on how to walk and even offered ideas to each other for the talent competition. I heard, “I love that song! I can’t wait to hear you sing that!”

3. She’s fun to be around. – There was a clear bond and friendship amongst these ladies. They were having fun playing dress up together and even more fun giggling as they learned how to deliver their introductions.

4. She sets goals for herself. – One girl is designing and making her own dress for the pageant because she wants to go to FIDM (Fashion Institute) after high school. Additionally, several of the older girls expressed a desire to go to college and talked about steps to making it happen.

5. She has a generous heart. – I watched one girl give up her dress to her friend simply because it was the only one that fit her.

6. She has an open mind. – The ladies listened to every word I said, eager to learn and apply it. One contestant couldn’t find a gown that fit her body type. Instead of stressing or pouting, she let it roll off her shoulders and said “it’s ok, there’s a dress out there for me, I just know it.”

7. She walks in confidence. – Obviously, part of the pageant entails walking on stage in their pageant gowns. I loved seeing them carry themselves with a new sense of confidence after our self-esteem workshop. (And it appears that the girls are actually most excited for the talent competition! Some will sing, some will dance, and one will even be sharing a poem that she wrote. That takes confidence!)

8. She supports and encourages those around her. – It was a joy to watch the girls cheering each other on as we practiced walking on stage and even help one another try on their pageant dresses. They were complimenting each other like sisters would.

As you can see, nothing on this list was about who had the prettiest face or the best gown or the most money. In the end, none of those things matter. How you treat yourself and others does.

I can’t wait to watch this pageant really take off for years to come. It may be a small ripple in the water now, but I envision it becoming a huge wave later.