I have to admit it – I love a nice hot cup of tea. There’s something about being forced to stand quietly, waiting for the kettle to boil that seems to calm my spirit. And don’t get me started on the lovely feeling of a warm cuppa nestled in my hands.
When I have time – and have someone to share a cuppa with – I love to get out one of my favourite loose leaf teas and use my favourite red teapot. The English have it right – a cup of tea and a good chat can fix almost anything.
I was standing by the kettle just now, fixing myself a cup of tea (sadly, a cup-for-one with a teabag), when something struck me. It doesn’t take much to turn a cup of boiling water into a cup of tea. Within seconds of dunking a teabag, the water has been infused with the colour and flavour of the tea – turning it from clear to murky brown.
Watching my cuppa change colour just now has got me thinking. I wonder how much the bitterness I’ve been feeling about having to live life with a mental illness has been tainting my life?
It’s not fun having a mental illness. It’s not fun dealing with the side-effects of various medications. And I’ll be the first to admit that somewhere, deep inside me, I still hold some bitterness about the cards life has dealt me. Sure, I can now see a bigger purpose for my life – complete with my bipolar diagnosis – but that doesn’t mean I don’t still sometimes struggle with accepting it.
Most of my friends and family will say that it’s perfectly ok to feel bitter about being diagnosed with a mental illness. The only trouble is, it’s been almost twenty years now since my original diagnosis. And these feelings of bitterness have a nasty habit of acting like a tea bag: infusing me and my life with anger and regret.
The effects may not always be obvious… but this bitterness got a nasty habit of bubbling to the surface when I’m feeling at my lowest and want something to strike out at. It’s not something that I want my kids to see in me.
And so, I’m left with a choice.
Do I allow this ‘bag’ of bitterness to continue to colour my life? Or do I make a conscious effort to finally accept my diagnosis – acknowledging that it will have an ongoing impact on my life and that I will most likely need to continue taking medication for the rest of my life to keep it under control?
It’s a difficult choice.
And yet – looking at the effect tonight that one small teabag had on my big cup full of crystal clear water, I’m determined to not let my diagnosis taint the rest of my life. Sure it’s almost certainly always going to be part of me – but it’s not going to affect who I am – or the life I was created to live.
Do you feel bitter or angry because of your mental illness or something else in your life? Have you had to take steps to deal with your bitterness? I’m sure other mums would love to hear about and learn from your experience.