10 years. A decade of my life. In May, that’s how long it will be that I have lived in the Tri-State area. It’s really hard to believe that much time has gone by. I think back 10 years and remember I was a 22-year-old who couldn’t wait to move to New York City and live her dream. At that time, the dream was leaving my small town (as fast as possible!), reinventing myself, finding a great job, becoming a high-powered marketing executive, making a six figure salary and eventually being able to afford to buy an apartment in Manhattan.
A lot has happened in the last decade, but with the exception of leaving home and somewhat reinventing myself, life interfered and altered those dreams. As the famous John Lennon quote says, "life is what happens when you're busy making other plans." That's for sure! I knew that I couldn't control every aspect of life, but I always tried to do so as much as possible. I set goals, I worked hard and I achieved them; so why should these dreams be any different?
I can look back on my journey and find a lot of mistakes and kick myself for many things, but hindsight is always 20/20. Most people would do something different if they knew then what they know now. For years I have been haunted by what I could have done and should have done, but I try to accept that I made the best choices that I could at the time. The biggest thing that I know now that I didn’t know then, is I was living life with an untreated mental illness, which was sabotaging my life in more ways than I ever imagined. I couldn’t have made better decisions because my brain was barely functioning and I had all I could do to keep living. The decision to stay alive was the best and most important decision I made. I kept fighting and that was the best I could do then.
With the proper doctors, medicines and therapy, I have been able to put my life together over the years. I definitely didn’t follow the course I had imagined when I was younger, but I try to remind myself that my struggles led me to a richer life than I ever dreamed of. I found the man I love, have a son that is my world and discovered what is really important in life. I always knew material things weren’t what life was about, but my journey has reinforced that. I found out that you can put me in an amazing city, a nice home or fancy car, but if my illness isn’t under control, those things won’t fix me or make me feel better in any way. You really can't escape yourself no matter how far you go from home. Although I still wish I got treatment much sooner, I am so grateful for the life I have today; I wouldn't trade it for any of those 22-year old dreams I had. All I want now is health, happiness and peace for me and my family.