A Look Back: Bullying and Mental health

This is perhaps the most critical topic I have covered on The Bipolar Writer blog. It is the most talked about, and today as I write some new posts for the remainder of the week. I wanted to repost this blog post because there has been so much feedback posted on this post. I think other than my posts on suicide, bullying, and mental health is vital to ending the stigma surrounding mental illness.

This is a look back at the top blog posts for The Bipolar Writer Blog which will end March 12, 2021.

Bullying and Mental Health

It is always the goal of this blog to be informative. At the same time, I want to share my experiences on the topic in question. I wanted to write today about the realities of bullying and effects it can have on mental health when we are younger.

It was different when I was a kid. The technology that our kids (whether they be your child, a niece, or a nephew) have at their disposal changed the game when it came to bullying

Any expert will tell you that bullying at a young age can cause serious emotional distress. and even develop into mental disabilities.

I can remember some level of bullying when I was a child. In my own experiences, I am not sure if it affected my mental illness as much. In middle school, the bullying I received could have been one reason for later issues. It could be why in high school I became a loner introvert. When depression became a constant companion in my teenage year’s bullying didn’t help.

In my own experiences. Other things in my childhood have more bearing in what were causes in my mental illness, but I won’t discuss that here.

In my middle school years my bullying was for being geeky (I played video games and D & D) had some bearing.

It’s different in today’s world. I can remember in my early twenties with MySpace and Facebook online bullying was taking shape. I am going to age myself a bit. I can also remember when chat rooms were big when I was a teenager. It often was a place for online bullying for those that were different.

Bullying can cause so much damage at a young age. It could interfere with social development. I became more myself when I was alone. I reveled in it. But it made it harder for me to be social in high school. It’s one of the causes of my social anxiety now.

It can hurt your self-esteem the more bullying takes place in your life. I know the bullying I received in middle school for being a teacher’s pet or a geek it often made me depressed. I can even remember times when I was anxious to go school during my high school years.

I remember once talking on MySpace about my cutting and self-harm. I got such negative remarks from people because it’s such a taboo subject. The ridicule I received was that of an outsider in the normal world. When I took such lengths at such a young age (my teenage and first years of adulthood) it people used it against me. So I became more secretive and hid in shame.

n the last ten years, I have seen bullying turn to mental health issues for others on a global scale. I have seen people bullied online for going through depression or self-harm. People tend to not realize that those of us who talk about these issues might be reaching out. Talking about self-harm or suicide might be the last ditch hope to have someone listen.

The biggest thing I want to talk about here is for parents. It’s important to talk about bullying with your kids. It is paramount if your kids are starting to show signs of mental illness. If you are looking for things like prolonged depression or constant anxiety it will show up. You can watch. Ask questions.

Don’t be afraid to check your teen’s social media. It is the biggest place that I have seen the most bullying in today’s world. I can’t imagine going through bullying during the day at school. Then you go online and you subjected to bullying there too. So many teens spend so much time in the digital world it’s become the breeding ground of online bullying.

We see the stories all the time, and I mean those of us in the mental health community. Kids so young taking their lives because bullying is such a major part of their daily routine. It becomes too much and we lose human beings who only want to be kids.

Photo by Morgan Basham on Unsplash

This saddens me that so many young kids and teens are losing hope and turning to suicide. Bullying is a big part of this problem. I am not a parent but I have nieces at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Sometimes the most silent of us is being hurt the most. Words can cut deep. It’s important for parents to be active in their child’s life. Down the road, it could lead to an undiagnosed mental illness.

I was twenty-two when I was first diagnosed and no one realized I was in a bad place for so many years.

This part of the post is for those that are suffering from bullying and see no way out.

Get help. It’s important.

The Energy Leadership Index (ELI) Assessment The Bipolar Writer Podcast

Episode Description What Kim is offering in this package are the ELI Assessment and a debrief. The two ways that come are one-on-one debrief with Kim or possibly a group debrief on Saturdays. I, James Edgar Skye, am offering to be a part of that process if you trust me as an option because I know what it feels like to go through a debrief. If you are interested, you can reach out to Kim Johnson directly at groundsforclarity@protommail.com and be open just to have a conversation about getting your ELI done TODAY. The debrief is typically done within 24 hours and on Zoom, but those details will be worked out with Kim and yourself. If there is a chance you want to jump right in, there is a special going on with my buy me a coffee website that you can purchase the ELI directly from me. Make sure to fill out the form that comes with the purchase. I will relay the information to Kim promptly, and she will reach out. Here is the link: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/Jamesedgarskye/e/29676 If you are looking for all things James Edgar Skye, you can find his social media visiting https://linqapp.com/james_skye The Bipolar Writer Podcast is listener-supported, and for as little as $5 a month, you can help support the mental health advocacy that I do by visiting http://www.buymeacoffee.com/jamesedgarskye. Please help this podcast grow by sharing with friends or anyone that you think will benefit from the experiences of others and myself. You can also find me on the following websites. You can also find me on the following websites to book your interview, ask questions, and reach out to me. http://www.jamesedgarskye.me Purchase my books at: https://www.jamesedgarskye.me/jamesedgarskyebooks — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/jamesedgarskye22/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/jamesedgarskye22/support
  1. The Energy Leadership Index (ELI) Assessment
  2. The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Alaina
  3. The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Colleen
  4. Bullying and Mental Health
  5. The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Krystal

Writing my memoir has made me realize a lot of things. If I would have talked to my parents about how deep my depression was at fourteen I might have gotten the help I needed. I struggled so much because I left things unsaid. It was until I was in my early twenties before it got so out of control that I chose to commit suicide.

With technology overwhelming us with so much negative every day and with so much bullying online, its become a major issue. The human beings that we are losing are getting younger and younger.

On both sides, parents, and kids, the most important thing is to communicate with one another. It was a different world I grew up in. The stigma was tougher for those of suffering and it was easier to not talk about a mental illness. But this thinking in my mind now is wrong. You must talk about bullying and how it can lead to a mental illness down the road in your own life.

That’s the biggest mistake you can make in this life.

I am speaking to parents, children, teens, young adults, and even adults. We say such hurtful thing to one another on social media as adults. What are we teaching our children?

Learn from the mistakes I made.

I write these blog posts because the topics mean a lot to me. I want to be a voice. But those of us in mental illness community that have experience, have to be a more active voice for the younger generation.

I am adding a new thing to my blog. I will ask my fellow bloggers to share their own experiences with bullying and mental illness. Not just in my comments on this blog. In your own blog space.

I challenge you to, if you can, share your own experiences and add to what kids, teens, and young adults can do to combat bullying in a technological world.

Always Keep Fighting.

What is the worst that can happen?

James Edgar Skye

Visit my author website at http://www.jamesedgarskye.me

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For everything James Edgar Skye use the QR code below Or use this link.

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Aaaaaand…Action!

Examine the image closely.  Imagine yourself on that stage, under those lights. Imagine all those seats filled with students. There’s anticipation in the air because they are finally quiet. Ready for the show to begin. All eyes on you. On your every move. On your outfit, your shoes, your hairstyle. Is your heart beating a little faster?

Mine certainly is!

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I am a socio-phobic extrovert. I was born a complete extrovert, easily talking to whoever, whenever. I sailed happily through primary school, a confident child.

In High School my little world came crashing down. I had gained some weight and by Gr 11 I was bullied daily about my appearance, my glasses, my nose, my “nerdy” long school uniform. I was the academic and music award type, not the party type. No boy ever looked in my direction. The bullying became so bad that I spent a week sitting in the school toilets in my Gr 12 year. I refused to go back to school and eventually completed Gr 12 through a correspondence course. Social phobia, extreme anxiety and depression hit me full in the face. To cut the sob story short, I spent most of my twenties and thirties avoiding people and social situations.

Which brought me to my choice to spend the first 10 years of married life on a farm, having very little contact with the outside world.

But Extrovert me started rearing her head more and more …she was alive and well, it turned out! We can run but we can’t hide from our true selves…

Extrovert me was in agony. No people, no daily goals, no money of my own, no control over my own life! Enough was enough!

Enter…Mrs O, or ” Mam” English teacher as my kids call me. ( find my teaching tales about life as a teacher in rural South Africa here http://teachingtough.wordpress.com)

Teaching brought the personality I was born with out in full force. There are times when I almost have an out-of-body experience, looking at myself from a distance and thinking “Who is this person talking to 40 teenagers ??? ”

Ten years ago I would have run for the hills.

I am so grateful that I didn’t.

Being “The One On Stage” takes it all out of you. Remember, you are a teacher from the moment you drive through the school gates to the moment you drive out. And being “The Teacher” means you are actress, mother, nurse, councellor, disciplinarian. For those hours on the school grounds you are “ON”.

You can’t show weakness, illness, tiredness. Embarrassment, doubt or anxiety. You have your role, and you have to play it. That is your job. Projecting confidence. Showing control. Shoulders back, steady voice, efficient.

Does it take all you’ve got to give?

YES.

Is it worth it?

YES. Absolutely, 100 % worth it. Even for a scaredy cat like me.

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What Anger Is To Me

Please don’t tell me that a smile and your sorrow just don’t go together.

I would not look upon my anger as something foreign to me that I have to fight. I have to deal with my anger with care, with love, with tenderness, and with non-violence.

When I get angry, I have to produce awareness: “I am angry. Anger is in me. I am anger”. That is the first thing to do.

Thank you for being with me. Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind.

Angel love and rainbows.

Love, Francesca.

No Longer Hiding my Emotions

Over the years I’ve become extremely good at hiding my emotions from others.

I grew up with the belief that sadness & tears made me weak so I did my best to never cry in front of people.

I believed that my problems didn’t matter because out there in the world there was someone else with bigger problems than mine.

I believed that people wouldn’t care about what I was going through or that I would be considered a burden.

These beliefs have stayed with me up until this very day. While I’ve gotten more & more comfortable sharing my emotions & problems with others, it’s still something I struggle with today.

This has probably been one of the most difficult habits for myself to break because it’s become natural for me to just hide my emotions & bottle them up never sharing with anyone.

My entire life I’ve done my best to remain strong through all the difficult situations I faced up until now. I didn’t let others see or know the true pain I was in. There were periods where I would spend many nights crying myself to sleep at night. I didn’t want to dump my own problems on anyone else because I didn’t want to be a burden. I ended up not only carrying my own weight of problems, but the weight of those closest to me as well. I put off working through & healing my own issues, to help the ones I loved most.

It’s taken me up until now to realize that it’s important to take care of our own selves first. I neglected my own healing & stuffed my emotions deep down inside of me. In order to be of service & help to others in our lives, we must heal ourselves from within as well.

Because of the difficulties & pain I’ve faced, I never want others to feel alone or feel like they’re a burden. I am here for anyone and can be that shoulder for you to cry on. Never feel like you are a burden to others or that your problems don’t matter because they do! No matter how big or small the problem you’re faced with, it still matters.

Fighting The Stigma

Hey all…I know that it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me…at least it feels that way. I probably even said that as the intro to the last post I wrote here. At least I think I did, memory is still pretty awful these days. Anyways, let’s talk about Stigma. Ah yes, everyone here knows of the lovely stigma, at least they should. Not saying that I hope you’ve experienced stigma, just that you know of it. Though, it is pretty difficult to get through life with mental illness without experiencing stigma. For those of you who don’t know what stigma is, consider yourselves lucky for one, but maybe you’ll understand if I use these words instead : Intolerance, Discrimination, Hatred, Prejudice, Bigotry, etc. Stigma is essentially all of these things, and it is not unique to the mental health world either. Stigma has been experienced by everyone on this planet, except for maybe rich white guys. Then again, I just stigmatized the rich white guys, by saying they’ve never experienced stigma…so I mean…Stigma can easily be described as treating someone a certain way because of something that is beyond their control. Examples include racism, sexism, addiction, mental illness, eating disorders, height, hair color, etc. SO, if I were to treat you differently because of something that you could not control, then I would be stigmatizing you. For example, if I said, “Just get outside and bask in the sunlight for once, then you won’t be so depressed!” That would not only be highly insensitive and heavily misinformed, but would also be adding to the stigma currently surrounding depression. Now I’m not discounting the positive effects of being outdoors, and getting some sunlight, but it is in no shape or form, a cure for depression, or for any mental illness for that matter.

I forget who it was, but there was someone who was spreading misinformation about mental health on Twitter, and many of the more social advocates immediately jumped on it. The person in question said something along the lines of, and I’m in no ways quoting exactly here: “Mental illness is a choice, you just have to decide to be mentally healthy and it will happen.” Needless to say, this person was INCREDIBLY wrong about mental illness, and she was almost immediately called out on it. The thing that makes this instance so much worse, is that for the next several days, she was trying to defend her position from all the immensely educated mental health advocates on Twitter. Sure there were some all too obvious “low blow” satire like, “Oh my gosh! I had no idea! Thanks blank, My mental illness is now cured!” However, a rather large part of me completely supports turning this person into the “village idiot” for a little while, and letting them soak in how wrong they truly were. Yet, the other part of me thinks that she should have just been treated as uneducated, and promptly, politely corrected (even though it wouldn’t have made any difference). Speaking of Twitter, how did you like the alternate words for Stigma that I listed in the beginning? Well, it wasn’t yours truly that made the rather obvious connection.  It was a user on Twitter that goes by the handle of MyMedicatedTO, I would use the @ symbol but it creates some weird link that doesn’t lead to Twitter…so I trust you all to find this guy/girl/non-binary person yourselves if you’re interested enough.

The sad thing is, is that this MyMedicatedTO is completely right! Stigma can easily be interchanged with any of these awful terms, and quite honestly should be. MyMedicatedTO also made a remark about how the word stigma feels too soft for the actions it usually perpetrates. I actually agree here, because the word stigma, has somehow gotten attached to Mental Health, for better or worse. Now, this is MY opinion, being attached to Mental Health, often allows some people to easily dismiss something. So as stigma is attached to Mental Health, when these people hear about the Stigma that mental illness sufferers experience, they quickly dismiss it as more “Mental Health hullabaloo” and don’t address it. However, since these other terms like Intolerance, Discrimination, Hatred, Prejudice, and Bigotry are kinda hot topics our current society, I feel that people would be more receptive of what we have to say. Now I am in no way saying that we should stop saying Stigma, because well, it more or less is synonymous with mental health. I am saying however, if we want to add a little extra “weight” to what we are saying as mental health advocates, we could use another term for basically the same thing. Because honestly, stigma is almost always no different than discrimination because of mental illness. Hell, that’s why I write under a pseudonym. Although, I am tossing around the idea of using my real name. I mean, I’m writing this article on my work computer, in front of my coworkers, and have not received a single question about it. Anywho, we all have to do our part on fighting the stigma, not just in the mental health world, but everywhere there is one. If there are people that still judge others based on things that were not a choice (unfortunately there are) we still have our work cut out for us. At least to me, I can’t just be a mental health advocate, I have to be an equality advocate. All people are equal to one another, and should be treated as such…but hey, what do I know, I’m just some faceless blogger.

Hugs + Kisses,
Alan

A Special Thank You to my Friends & Family

Right now I’m at a period of my life where I’ve been focusing more and more on my own inner work & personal development. It’s something I neglected and put off for far too long. I held the belief that if I pushed away the painful memories & experiences I could forget about them forever. I’ve learned though, that’s not the truth. At some point they will resurface and force you to deal with them.

For being 23 years old I feel I have experienced so much already in my lifetime. I grew up in an abusive household for almost 18 years being abused by my mother on a daily basis. I was sexually assaulted at the age of 19. I struggled with an alcohol addiction during that period as well. I hit rock bottom and almost killed myself. I was hospitalized for my mental illness. I was in & out of depressive episodes along with manic episodes. It was only two years ago when I got the help I needed & became stable again.

During the years when I was away at college and struggled with my alcohol addiction I stopped caring about the others around me. I stopped caring when my friends voiced their concerns about me and wanted to help me. My actions became careless and reckless that cost me friendships at that time.

I think back and wonder that if I did listen to them or if I showed more compassion maybe some of those people would still be in my life. I wonder that if I didn’t struggle with alcohol and mental illness that some of those people would still be in my life. It also showed me, who my true friends were, the ones who stuck by me through it all and are still in my life today.

It’s why I want to say thank you. I want to say thank you to my family and closest friends who stuck by me through my darkest moments. I thank you for not giving up on me when I was at my lowest points. I thank you for not getting mad or leaving when I wouldn’t listen to your advice. I thank you for always being there to support and show me love even when I didn’t want to receive it.

I believe it’s always through our darkest struggles and moments that shows us the people in our lives who truly care. It strengthens us to rise up even higher than before. So again, thank you to all those who showed me support and love through my darkest moments.

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How to Break the Cycle of Abuse Within Your Own Mind

I am really good at not being good to myself.

“Most of your class is smarter than you.” “No one wants to be your friend.” “Of course you didn’t win.”

Throughout my childhood, I taught myself to have no self pride. At all. Despite being decently intelligent and skilled; I could never accept a compliment. If I didn’t win the very best at a contest, the voices inside told me why. If I happened to do well; they reminded me of how many other people were better, or of how there weren’t many competitors.

I’d love to say things have gotten better, but they haven’t.

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“Look, see: that person says she likes that person, but doesn’t even look at you when you’re walking by.” “There you go, dummy; forgetting everything again.” “Well, who would want to be your friend?”

I could blame the internet, exposing me and millions of others TO millions of others. But if I’m being honest, my negative self would be able to beat me up even without bringing the rest of the world into the comparisons.

When I’ve addressed this problem with self-meditation, self-medication (usually chocolate), and the occasional session with a therapist; I …can’t actually address it. I’m so good at not being good to me that I jump right in to sabotage any sort of progress.

Me: “Well, when someone compliments me, I feel like they probably don’t know the whole picture.”

Also Me: Justifying “I’m not that good at cooking/writing/being a friend/etc. That person is just really nice. She tells the off-key 8-year-olds at church that they sang beautifully.”

I’m so good at not being good that I claim my conclusions are LOGICAL. I bring outside evidence to back the negativity up, disguise rudeness as truth, and name-calling as accurate titles.

And I don’t see this as wrong.

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If I had a friend (See? If I had a friend? -so mean!) -anyway- If I had a friend whose boyfriend were saying that crap to her, I’d immediately tell her it was abusive behavior. If someone at school were telling these things to my son, I’d advise him to stand up for himself and even talk to his teacher about it. If I were reading a book or watching a movie and heard the things that play in my head all day; I would recognize the character as a petty, selfish bully.

Living with me all day every day, however, I do not. As you may have guessed, I tell myself that negativity is exactly what I deserve.

…Which makes breaking out of the cycle of abuse that much more difficult. And yes, it is a cycle of abuse.

As such, the actually LOGICAL steps to getting out would be to follow professional advice for leaving an abuser. The internet may be providing fodder for my inaccurate comparisons, but it also has a lot of information to help save me from them. In fact, there is even a wikiHow on breaking an abusive cycle.

Since we’re dealing with an internal abuser, I’ve taken their list and modified it:

  1. Leave.
    I can’t exactly leave my own head, but see that my substance abuse and attempts to disassociate are a lot like telling an abusive spouse I’m leaving, but not actually packing bags and arranging for another place to live.
    I feel that I don’t know where to go or what to pack yet, but maybe I can start asking around and collecting a few moving boxes.
  2. Don’t dismiss, justify, or accept the abuse.
    Frankly, I need to stop agreeing with the Meany-Head in my head. I can probably, sort-of, start talking back to it like a stubborn 3-year-old. According to professionals, that’s healthier than allowing it.
  3. Look out for the honeymoon phase.
    I didn’t think self-abuse had this, but it does. I have days or even weeks of letting up on myself. I smile without reminding myself that poor children in Africa have little to smile about. I accept a compliment and don’t downplay it.
  4. Don’t fall for that break in abuse!!
    I can’t let my guard down and assume everything’s better if there is little or no meanness.
    When I went on a successful diet one time, I mentally associated sugars and refined flour with fat gain. Those two became repulsive to me and I had no appetite to eat them.
    Similarly, I’ve got to put a no-acceptance-at-all mental block on the negative talk. Like Susan said in her article, I’ve got to respond right away with positivity.
  5. Unearth your superpower.
    The wikiHow articles says, “One reason individuals stay in abusive relationships is because they feel powerless and unable to act.” Boy, is that ever true. I feel overwhelmed at the idea of finding strength within myself.
    BUT, there are times that I am motivated to act -no matter how depressed or beaten-down I feel. Those times include: if someone I love is in danger, if injustice is raising its ugly head, and when things pile up so much that I simply cannot tolerate any more.
    If I can find strength even in the darkest despair, I can fight this abuse.
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  6. Go get help.
    I think this is my favorite of the steps, because I often suffer from Analysis Paralysis. I don’t know the ‘right’ direction to go, so stand and stare at the different options until I get frustrated and give up.
    With a counselor, therapist, psychologist, trained friend, or even a small reminder to literally choose to be positive; I can get GPS instructions for which way to start walking.

So, what am I waiting for? Honestly, I’m waiting for it to be easier. I’m waiting for the ‘right’ motivation. I’m probably waiting for the chocolate to kick in.

But I have a list. I have a goal. I want to Keep Fighting instead of keep bending over backwards and feeling worthless.

So, let’s do this thing. Who’s with me?

Photo Credit:
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Siavash Ghanbari
Philipp Wüthrich
Gabriela Braga

©2019 Chelsea Owens

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The Dark Side of Social Media

We live in a society today that is ruled by technology. We have access to so much more than we did ten years ago. There are a number of ways for us to stay connected these days thanks to social media. Social media can be both a blessing and a curse. There are times when social media can get toxic and bad for your mental health.

 

Living with a mental illness, I’ve found at times that social media has been toxic for myself. When I find myself feeling negative towards social media or I start being overly self critical; I know it’s time for me to take a breather from social media. While there are many positives for having social media, there are also some negative aspects to it.

 

Social media has been a blessing for staying connected with family and friends across the globe. It’s great being able to stay connected with those in your life who you don’t get to see as often as you would like. I love scrolling my feed seeing pictures of my family and friends enjoying their lives. Social media has been an incredible tool for staying connected with those in your life.

 

There are situations where social media can get to be toxic. We have the Internet at our disposal and it can be so easy to get lost in that void of being stuck behind a computer or phone all day long.

 

One way that social media can be toxic is cyber bulling. Cyber bullying has become more popular in a negative way. Unfortunately, it’s become more common for individuals to go through cyber bullying. Cyber bullying has made it easier for those bullies to target more people since they aren’t face to face and are doing it from a computer or phone.

 

I was cyber bullied during my years in high school. Experiencing it first hand, I know how hurtful it can be. It caused my depression to worsen and it dropped my confidence levels. It’s heartbreaking to see others go through that because I know how hard it can be facing a situation like that.

 

Another way social media can be toxic is comparing ourselves to others we see on social media. Majority of people on social media only share the “highlights” of their life leaving out the behind the scenes and not so pretty moments. I’ve gotten caught up in the comparison game numerous times especially on Instagram. I will catch myself comparing my body to another girls, wondering why my stomach can’t be flat like hers.

 

I’ve now learned that the comparison game gets you nowhere. The comparison game is only toxic and harmful to your mental health. It’s when I remind myself that what that person shares on social media is just a tiny part of their life. We don’t know their entire story or what their current life situation is. We are all uniquely and individually made so no two people are the same.

 

When you find yourself getting caught up in those negative thoughts or find yourself feeling negative towards social media; give yourself a break. It can be so refreshing to take a breather and focus on the other areas of your life. Spend a little extra time giving yourself love and attention that you deserve.

Remember…

Remember…

Remember who you are.

Remember how you got here.

Remember what you love.

Remember what happiness is.

Remember your friendships.

Remember where you’re going.

Remember to accept your diagnosis.

Remember that you are not your illness.

Remember to have hope, to love and have aspirations.

Remember to allow yourself to feel and to live.

Remember that you are human and perfect in your imperfections.

Remember to let go.

Remember to move on.

Remember.

To be.

Remember this,

That your existence proves that there is a perfect world;

That perfect world is within you.

Unleash your inner magic and allow your inner-tuition to guide you.

Love yourself.

Always, remember this.

Love, Francesca