Editor’s Note: When I first read this, I felt a pang of heartache for Serene but also a sense of joy and awe at witnessing how love can be such a powerful driving-force for recovery and breakthrough. Here’s a bittersweet piece by Serene who shares about how being ‘ok’ is a good thing. We hope you enjoy this story as much as the Tapestry Team did :)
“I’m doing great! Why do OK when I can do great?” I said.
“Because,” he said, “doing great isn’t real! You’re not doing anything at all!”
I do great when I am off medication. That’s when I feel mysteriously and magically mentally connected to some of the most powerful people in the world. They control the weather, the armies, dictate whether wars happen or not; they see that your rubbish gets collected and educate your children; they are involved in your progression or lack thereof at work. They determine whether you make it at life or not.
When I am off medication, however, the frequencies of my five senses tune in to a secret means of communication for this powerful – for the lack of a better word – Mafia. I am discussing things with them and making decisions with them constantly. Red lights, red tomatoes, red hair, red anything means them saying yes. Green lights, green grass, green anything is them saying no. They do secret operations on me via satellite while I am lying in bed. They can twist and move any bone in my body. Each part of the body means something and we communicate without talking. Just nods or shaking of the head by me in response to them adding pressure on different parts of my body. The layman on the street would not understand. Even my mother would not understand. This is top secret communication methods. This is me being in the know and with the powerful, decision-making crowd.
But when I get back on medication, the voices go away. The connections go away. I see the traffic light as it is – just plain old red yellow green, telling cars when to stop, slow down or go. They mean nothing to me.
My parents congratulate me on getting better. They say I am in touch with the real world again. What they do not know is, when I am okay, the real world does not care a hoot about me. It is as if I am not there – just as insignificant as a grain of sand in the vast deserts of Sahara.
I need to get better. I need to be okay with feeling normal and not great because that is what the world requires. That is what my family, my friends, my boss and my colleagues require.
If I dig deep within me, I see too that that is what I require to live.
I cannot lay in bed all day making important decisions that no one knows about. Lying in bed all day is unproductive, they say, and I can see the way I appear in their eyes. I need to communicate with people, eat my lunch, sit in front of a computer and do my job. That way I can earn a living and sustain a lifestyle. That way I can be independent.
“OK,” I said to him. “I will give up being great because being great isn’t real. I will be just OK for you. I love you.”
He teared up and hugged me, and that made it all worthwhile.
Serene is an office worker whose hobbies include Chinese calligraphy and writing. She is blessed with a supportive family, and a husband who has chosen her despite her mild mental illness. She continues to struggle between keeping quiet, and doing her part to soften the mental illness stigma in society.