When I was in the third grade, our class put on a class play. It was a cute and short play called “The Cookie Tree” which I have since come to learn also happens to be a children’s book (or maybe I knew that then and forgot…who knows?). Now, the story takes place in a small town, where nothing exciting ever happens and everyone knows everyone. One night, all of the people in the town wake up to a cookie tree having sprouted in the middle of the town square that everyone thought was something bad. Eventually one of the children suggests to eat a cookie, then everyone eats the cookies from the tree and realize that it was, in fact, a blessing.
I was pretty shy during my younger years (I know that’s hard to imagine if you know me now) and was fortunate enough to have only one line in the entire play. That line just so happened to be: “Well, everything does happen for something!”
From the day I was finally diagnosed, I have wondered why this had to happen to me. Why do I have to spend every waking moment of every day battling with my own mind? Why do I have to go through the rest of my life wondering how long I have left before I finally had a successful suicide attempt? Why do I have to have that constant worry in my mind that every single person that I know and love is going to leave me? Why did I have to spend so many years damaging my brain, my body, my relationships, and my life?
I’m finally starting to see the answer. It’s getting clearer with each day.
My disorders are my cookie tree. Although it can clearly be argued that I have had several of these disorders for the majority of my life, when I was diagnosed at 17, suddenly there was something that appeared to be evil crashing into my life. I spent years thinking that my disorders were evil, that they were going to completely destroy my life and be the reason why I would never be able to amount to anything. As unexpected and disruptive as the whole process was and continues to be, I can now see it for the blessing that it really is.
Many people like the saying “God doesn’t give you anything that you can’t handle.” I don’t necessarily have anything against this saying, but it’s not really the most important component of my situation. God definitely blessed me with the strength to endure the battle with my disorders and also with the best support system I could possibly have, but He gave me more than that.
The struggles I have endured and overcome have equipped me with the ability to teach others. Not only can I teach my peers who have similar disorders as me about resources that are available to them, but I can teach people who do not live with mental health disorders about what it really means to struggle with them on a daily basis and to teach them how to be supportive of those who do. I can use my personal experiences in conjunction with my God-give empathy and compassion to help others with whom I share struggles gain support and reach recovery.
My blessing is being able to see what I previously thought was a curse, and what so many others look at with disgust and disapproval, as as gift.
Thanks for reading.
“What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.” -Oscar Wilde