Truth be known, it isn’t the idea of struggling that usually has me worried; it is the idea of when, for I know I will. The life of a person suffering with mental illness is a journey of day to day compassion. The one who needs to be compassionate to the person with mental illness, isn’t the love ones, it is the one with it. I can love and help anyone and everyone that isn’t me. I am the hardest one on myself when I should understand it isn’t what I would do, had my illnesses not played their part in it. Now how do I think this double standard is right? I believe no matter what, I must strive to be better than I was yesterday. I didn’t get here by not holding myself to a higher standard than I do everyone else. I was borderline agoraphobic, only less then 6 years ago. This was who I was a military outcast, college dropout, homeless drug addict, two doctors said I was stupid, I was forced on to Social Security Disability, that was before. In less than 6 years I am now- a person who has achieved his dream of becoming a black belt ( Cho Dan ), going back to school and graduating with honors from a two year college with an ATA in Business Management, 4 other certificates, and was accepted into a special program at Western Washington University, where I am a senior right now. I haven’t stopped to breathe since I left the house less than six years ago. Is it fear? Yes if I fear it I go for it. I am afraid of people’s judgement, so I make them confused. I go from a shirt and tie, to tank top and flip flops, and I make it very difficult for myself each and every day. Why? Because I can, I must, I do it because to grow I must feel and understand the pain, I must believe it won’t control me. To believe has become surviving. The two year college was about grades. The four year college has been about conquering that which holds me hostage, me! I have sat and struggled in classes of 241, and in the middle of 150 person class, row 7 of a 14 row lecture hall. I survived both classes. I will again if needed. See life has granted me a chance to end the struggles that handcuffed my growth. It has empowered me with the idea of ableism- a word that allows me to see, I can be, it allows me to see I will be a version of a man, I can be proud of. See this version isn’t who I wanted, or others wanted of me. It is Better, far better than my dreams could ever be, when your fighting not just your unseen illnesses, but people’s versions of who they think you are, and the why unto which you act. We are not our illnesses, but players in the version of life, where to be accepted you must follow the version of reality set by those who only follow what they see. Well let them see my paperwork. I have the doctors, plenty of hospitals, and social security. I also have the doctor, the degrees, the black belt, and so will have the bachelor’s degree. Let them see the truth in that. We can become more than we were meant to be. choose to become the better than I was yesterday version. That version makes me realize it isn’t my illnesses that controls me, it is myself and how I respond to my illnesses, for it raise it’s ugly head, I must choose to fight it though support, understanding, therapy, psychology, and wherever the hell works at that moment. Finding your mind tricks that will help you. Mine is martial arts, and a hell of a lot of support. It took 30+ years to find what works for me. Find yours sooner! 

Bruce 

Peace to all- the journey isn’t over- it just begun 

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