by Nikki Stone
“I use to think that keeping up with my appearances mattered. However, I have seen what age does to the body and quiet frankly I can’t run fast enough to keep up with such appearances. So I have settled to frighten myself every morning when I get up to look in the mirror. Of course it takes a half an hour to realize that the person starring back at me is myself. Until then, I am thoroughly convinced it is a robber who does not have the sense enough to flee the scene and instead is spying on me, stolen my birthday suit and it appears they have really done some damage to it.” –NkstOne
“Being a child of a Navy veteran and preacher, I stayed in the state of confusion though I will admit it is familiar territory. I have always been able to find my way around in such a state.
Actually I have never figured out if I am to be a saint or to be a hell raiser, at times these two clash. The doctors call it bipolar; I call it an undeclared war.
My heritage is very colorful—from preachers to thieves, from peace keepers to warmongers. I had no chance really because the Mason Dixon line runs right through my brain being that I have both Confederate and Yankee blood. It is constantly an uncivilized civil war in which has been turned into a hippie movement with Lithium and Elavil. Now it’s a fizzled out firecracker that sparks a few thoughts.
I took life seriously one time and that was the last time I made that mistake. Instead I take life in moments of reality; some days in small doses and some days in large doses. However, I will never again try to overdose on such—it doesn’t go to well with my mental health!
Hello, my name is Nikki Stone. I am a Mental Health Advocate, Writer, Photographer, Artist, Domestic Engineer (a professional way of saying I am a housewife), Wife, Sister, Daughter, Friend, and ultimately a human being—at least that is what I have recently discovered.
I have Bipolar Disorder that I am in recovery with and I am also a survivor from sexual, mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical abuse. I know the effects of abuse very deeply. Three years ago I came to a total standstill in my life—actually I hit a huge brick wall and ended up having a nervous breakdown.
I lived in so much fear, anger, denial, shame, and guilt that I could not see any point in living. To be honest, I would not let anyone help me. Many tried, but I was in such a thick web of pain and lies that I could not see the truth about me or about my life.
I believed that I was evil, worthless, a waste of space and time. This belief was built upon years and years of lies. I believed these lies so much that when someone would tell me the truth I didn’t believe them.
Though going through the nervous breakdown was a very dark time in my life, in a way I am kind of thankful it happened. I know that may sound weird, however, it has been through the process of facing my worst fears and surviving them that I am now beginning to be the “REAL ME”.
Until then, I was running on automatic. I was whatever people wanted me to be. I was on a dead end road and I thought that death would solve my suffering. However, I am glad that I made the choice to live.
I call my life now the gift of a second chance. Now, I don’t have to be someone I am not just to be a person of value. I am of value because I am a person. It has been hard for me to realize this but there is so much truth to that. I am on the road of healing, recovery, and ultimately living as a whole person and not a fragmented shell of a being.
The truth is, being a human means that we have our strengths but we also have our weaknesses. I am not ashamed to be who I am, because no one else can be me thus no one else can tell me that I am doing it all wrong by being me.
When abuse occurs we are led to believe that we caused the abuse—that we are at fault. And that is what many abusers want us to believe. The truth is the fault lies with the abuser.
What I have realized in my abuse that if it wasn’t me, then it would have been someone else, because the problem wasn’t me. The problem was within the abuser. I can point this out because what I have realized in my own journey in healing is that I too became an abuser. Where the abusers left off in my life I picked up and began self-abusing and I became abusive towards others. That is what happens when we do not see the truth—we become the very thing we despise.
In my “warped” belief system I thought that in order for me to accept myself I had to have other people to accept me. In truth I had that all backwards. I have learned that I have to accept me “warts and all,” meaning accept myself 100% including but not limited to my weaknesses, my shortcomings, limitations, failures, and mistakes as well as my strengths, talents, abilities, and victories. This is what makes me human and there is no shame in that.
I am not talking about being selfish or conceded or prideful. I am talking about really truly learning to love the person I am and if I can love me “warts and all,” then I am able to truly love others.
Love begins within us before we can truly give it. I had a light bulb moment a few weeks ago over this, that light bulb moment was I realized that I can’t give what I don’t have, so if I don’t love me for who I truly am then how can I honestly give what I don’t have?
At that point I realized “Wow, and the truth shall set you free!” Because I lived years and years believing that if I loved me that I was being prideful, that I was being selfish! Now I know that is a lie and to be further honest to understand my motives I needed to quit listening to the world and listen to my own heart and compare it to the truth.
One of the vital tools that has helped me is to have a sense of humor. Laughter is the best medicine! Now I am finding many reasons to laugh and to find humor in everyday life. I still face difficult times and I still have struggles but they are not like they use to be. In other words I am not consumed by them to the point that I shut down, instead I face them and when it seems that the issue at hand is too overwhelming I am not afraid to reach out to get help.
I realize I was not created to become “Wonder Woman.” I have not yet found my lasso or my golden arm bands thus I know I am really 100% human and not some fictional character from a comic book who was sent to rescue and save the whole world. And to be honest “THANK GOD” because I can be me and not have to be a superficial person who has to be strong all the time.
And to be honest Popeye lied; spinach does not make us super strong. I have found strength in being able to laugh again. No matter how thick the clouds in my life may get, if I can come to a point where I can laugh then the burden isn’t so hard to carry.
It is being able to find humor in life that has helped me to see the truth of many things. It is okay to be who we are and to be able to laugh at ourselves, just as it is okay to cry and to lean on each other’s shoulders for support at times. I tell people quite often “Don’t give up when it is the darkest hour of your life because usually that is when the sun will soon rise.”
Now I am proactive in my own life. I am learning to take responsibility for my life. I am neither hopeless nor helpless. It has been a long hard road to get to where I am at right now and even though it has been painful, it has been worth it.
Being able to see certain parts of my broken life becoming whole again has been amazing to me. And the beauty of it all since I have had to make that huge U-turn in my life and face all the things I was running from, as well as speaking out about these things there have been others who now have found strength to do the same.
Yes, our life counts and we do affect each other one way or another. I used to think that my life had no affect, however I have been proven wrong and I am thankful that I can now see the truth and not be a prisoner to the lies I once believed.
Nikki Stone (aka NkstOne) is a mental health advocate in the state of Mississippi as well as a mental health consumer. She lives in North Mississippi with her husband and Cairn Terrier, Oz (who is her fur baby and therapy dog). She is involved with NAMI Mississippi and a trained Connections Facillitator, and “In Our Own Voice” Presenter (IOOV).
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