Using the Life Theme Illustration that I created (inspired by the exercise given at Better Endings for LIFE PATHS by my friend Linda), I have identified actual turning points to all of these major themes of my life which are represented in their own portion of this illustration.
- That sad little girl with the glasses displaying the artwork that she created, with clouds and lightning hovering over her… -This is symbolic of the bulk of my childhood. As an asthmatic, I was unable to play and exert myself with my friends outside. I had really bad allergies and asthma attacks. I also set out with a very low self esteem, as I was a chubby little one (because of Asthma meds), and very few children had glasses in my class. Being made fun of by classmates and an elderly neighbor that is not mentioned, this imprint was created. My self concept (in psychology: the mental image one has of oneself ) was developing, and it had all come down to this. I knew I was different. I was fat and not pretty. All of the nice pictures I could ever make would never change it. So…The turning point here was HUGE.
- The Treble Clef that represents my musical experiences growing up was made in red because music was a fire, a passion that flowed through my veins. This passion was an outlet. Though I played clarinet, when I played I did so with as much soul as I could belting out any show tune with a diva-like voice. In high school I earned first chair (for you non musician cats out there, that means I was considered the best or the section leader). Music opened a huge door in my life. This whole band thing led me to auditioning for leader of the high school marching band my second year of high school! I made the cut, held the spot as drum major/field commander of the high school marching band for the rest of my high school career/3 years! I had no clue I could be a leader. At this point, that little girl who saw herself as fat and worthless looked around only to find others staring up at her in awe. Things looked a whole lot different from the top of the field podium directing that band on the football field than they did at my mom’s kitchen table. I knew I could do it. I had it all in me. I had a future! There was something in me far greater than I could’ve ever imagined…the floor of Heaven cracked open just a wee but and the blessings rained down. I was somebody! I knew I could achieve things then. I was smart. My self concept was altered for the better.
- The Happy/Sad broken heart doodle above the Treble Clef signifies all of the teenage love gone sour due to not only situation and circumstance, but because of my undiagnosed condition and how it strongly impacted my relationships with others, especially boys. Just because the greatest crush I ever had rejected me, and the fact that he and other guys my age were attracted to my friends more than me, made me feel incompetent for love. This belief led me down a horrible path of bad decisions in the dating world, horrible suitors, and tragic endings. From that point on, I failed at romantic relationships simply because of how I let people tell me what I deserved, and who I was.I wasn’t complete nor whole. In order to thrive in life and in love, you must first know who you are! I didn’t find myself, til even after I was married. Better late then never, I suppose.
- The A+ that leads into The Dean’s List Scroll symbolizes my outstanding academics in high school and into college. I was becoming who I was meant to be, knocking down mountains. Into college, career opportunities were lighting up along with my confidence! Being recognized in such a way really boosted my self esteem. This is where I was at an all time high in my world. I believed I was smart, and so did everyone else…I became a true, confident young woman, headed for success.
- The Crossing, Green Street Signs, as you can see, say “Danger” and “PhD.” There were 2 roads. I was on that road that led to success, led to completion, led to my PhD!!! However, I took a detour and headed in the way of danger because I had lost my grasp on reality. It was all so gradual, so nobody noticed right away. My life was in part a show, as people believed the lies that I told to make it all fit. Somehow I was justhappy all the time. High risk behaviors became the norm, and flirting with danger was routine. I began to act not accordingly to any of my morals or beliefs, or who I grew up to be. I defied my religion and all of my own guidelines to life. At this point, I welcomed Bipolar Mania, and letting go of it all, embraced the thrill of insanity…
- You can see where The Bottle of Lithium below came from! It took a lot of time, a lot of time, trial and error, scary hospitalizations to be monitored and such so that my doctor could find the right combination of meds. to keep me stable, on an even line, so that I could live a normal life. The introduction of these Bipolar medications was another beginning. This was my blessing though! I began to settle down, find a calm that I never knew in all of the storms of my life. Lithium was a savior along with a few other drugs that helped control my Bipolar disorder and bring me back to a state of normalcy!
- The woman and man kissing a shared heart with the word ‘forever’ inside, are supposed to be me and my husband. Finding my husband was an adventure in itself.. This was a huge change for me. I believed marriage to be a healing. Now I see that I am the healing.
- The Church on the Bottom Right Corner represents how God never gave up on me, even though I gave up on him at times, and in times of mania, completely let go. However, I was protected through much by The Father and His angels. That’s another post. The prayers of my family and my Church were most definitely heard while I was in the hospital multiple times during the year 2004. Prayer is the most powerful tool that we have as people. These prayers, and the prayersof my own made the difference. I returned to the Lord who protected, healed, and delivered me.
- Finally, the large Cross in the middle of my illustration represents Jesus, my Savior, my hope, all that He’s done for me. With God as my rock, I made it. He never let go even though I did. I let go of the heart of me. Not anymore. He’s got my back, and lives in my heart forever! In a healthy state of mind, I include Him when making any decisions. I made it back to The Truth. Praise God for delivering me from it all…and for what the future holds!
God bless! — Mandi
I welcome all of your insights and stories! Linda