Life can be pretty bitter.
Sometimes we experience events or go through circumstances that chip away parts of us, moments that change us forever, sometimes for the worse. When trying times come, the results can leave us wounded or sour – bitter.
Though difficult circumstances may change us or leave behind scars unhealed, sometimes through darkness we can see the light. Sometimes the events that make us bitter can have a silver lining after all.
Getting pelted with lemons isn’t necessary a bad thing. It’s what you do with the lemons after that defines you. Do you throw them away and let the bitterness eat away at you, or do you use the lemons and make something sweet – something good?
Would you rather reach for the tequila or make lemonade?
And boy is that a hard decision to make!
I’ve had my fair share of lemons thrown at me.
I’ve had times where I reached for the bottle, leaving a sour taste in my mouth and feeling bitter. Lots of times I became angry of the things I went through as a kid and learning to live with PTSD. I had moments where I became bitter and the rage consumed me. For a long time, I let my experiences define me and beat me.
Sometimes it’s easier to be bitter.
I wasted years wishing I could go back and change my past. I lost countless sleeps over being tormented by my demons. I carried around a hate so deep that it almost destroyed me on multiple occasions, but that kind of hate – that type of thinking – only made everything in my life worse. Being bitter wasn’t going to solve anything. Staying angry over things I had no control over didn’t make me feel better. It only made me feel worse.
I knew I needed change. Sitting in a pile of rotting lemons, stewing over my situation got me no where. If I was going to feel better, if I was going to make a difference, I needed to get off my ass and do something about it.
Was there times I needed a good slap up the side of the head to smarten up? Yes, but only I could make that decision. Only I could drag myself out of the darkness.
It took years, but I finally picked up my lemons and grabbed a pitcher. If I was going to make a stand for myself (See what I did there?), I might as well do it for others like me.
Go big or go home, so I went all in.
And it paid off!
I’m not saying it was easy because it’s never easy to talk about what I went through and what I continue to go through, but I had a voice and I was going to use it for as long as I could. I had renewed purpose again. I started meeting amazing people, people who actually understood what I was going through. I had a small army behind me and countless supporters, so I marched forward, ready to fight the good fight.
Somewhere along the way, someone saw something in my fight. A complete stranger took an interest in what I had to say and offered me a bigger soap box to preach on.
Opportunities like this rarely come along in life. and sometimes things just fall into our laps, but I believe everything happens for a reason and I’m glad my voice resonated with someone who wanted to share my story with others.
Josh Rivedal at The i’Mpossible Project gave me that opportunity. He took a chance on me and after years of uphill trudging and countless battles, I was finally able to achieve two goals at the same time: 1) Be published in print, in an actual book. 2) Write about mental health.
I am forever grateful.
But all of this wasn’t possible just because of Josh. It was possible because I had many followers and supporters behind me, encouraging me along the way. I had others who inspired me to take this big leap. I had friends who I could share my story with, and through my writing, help them with their own struggles.
Without them – the fans, the followers, the supporters – none of this would have been possible.
“Because my story isn’t just for me anymore. It’s for them. The ones still fighting, the ones still hurting. It’s for the ones who are still on the battlefield, tired, exhausted and ready to raise the white flag.” – Lemonade Stand
Sure, it’s just a few pages in a small book, but I had a powerful message to share and if it wasn’t for all of you who bought the book, who shared my countless posts, who encouraged me to keep talking about mental health, I wouldn’t feel as proud as I do. At the end of the day, it’s not about selling an x-amount of books or making x-amount of dollars. Do I love being a writer? Yes. Do I love that I get to make a living off of what I’m passionate about? Yes, but no amount of money in the world could quell the pride and love I have felt since Lemonade Stand was published in August.
It was the personal messages, the sharing of similar experiences, the meeting of new people who make me feel accomplished. Getting published was just a small step. Reading the positive reactions are what make all of this worth it. It’s what makes being pelted with lemons feel easier. Knowing I made a small difference in a small way for someone, that’s worth it all.
It’s the shout outs on Facebook and Instagram that humble me.
It’s the random text messages from supporters and fans, reading LS over a cup of coffee or tea, texting me their favourite parts of the book. (So many coffee pics!)
“Inspiring and beautifully written.” – EWM
It’s the gratification for when I feel I’m helping make mental health a part of every day life. That it’s ok to wear your mental health on your sleeve, just like your heart.
“It’s my nightstand […] It’s symbolic of how your mental health journal is a normal part of your every day life. My mental illness story began a long time ago, but it’s still a part of my day just as much as anything else is, and will continue to be.” – KL
It’s the excitement I feel when someone is excited by my work too!
“I’m so drawn into [Amanda]’s stories when she writes and posts them on her website that I just couldn’t help not buying a book with her story in it! I can’t wait to have another one whenever one is published.” –AS
And even though I did a whole selfie session of myself with LS (See past blog posts!), it’s also fun having loved ones send me selfies with LS, a selfie that states: “Yeah, that’s right! I’m not afraid of mental health!” (Or that’s what I like to pretend they’re thinking. ;))
It’s for the ones who use LS to relax after a long day. Besides, the best minds wander at night.
“Beautifully written – Helps me realize my struggle doesn’t make me weak.” – JM
And sure, maybe I enjoy goading a little bit when my family butters me up. 😉
Does your Nana get creative and take fancy pics with your book?
I BET NOT!
So what if I got pelted with lemons? Sure, I got a bit bruised and a little sticky, but through the mess I found the sweetness. I brushed myself off, picked up my pen, and wrote really elaborate metaphor about taking my terrible circumstances and turning them into something positive, something worth fighting for.
I wear my pain like a badge of honour and while there are days where my demons get me down, I know I can always start (re)fresh tomorrow. I was lucky enough to escape the hands of my abuser, and while my pain didn’t affect me until later in life, I have come along way. Never in a million years would I have thought I would be sharing my experiences, and never would I have dreamed that I would actually get published. Hell, I didn’t even think I would live past twenty.
But the world works in mysterious ways and when you work hard and take hits, sometimes beautiful things can happen.
You gotta have spunk, gumption, and tenaciousness to get through this thing called life. Maybe it took me some times to find my groove, but the point is I didn’t do it alone.
Sometimes it takes a few friends who are willing to ruthlessly edit your work for you. At times it takes a few private supporters cheering you on from the sidelines. More often than not it takes an eccentric family that goes above and beyond to share your blog posts to get your name out there (Thanks Mom!). Mainly it takes a fiance who’s willing to listen to you bitch and complain one minute and turn into a sobbing mess the next, a man who nods his head with empathy even though there are days he doesn’t truly understand what I’m going through.
And sometimes it takes one complete stranger, who’s willing to take a chance on you to give you the opportunity to make a difference.
Where was I going with this?
Right, yes. None of this wouldn’t have been possible without everyone that has stood by my side this last year and still continue to support me as I work on other writing projects. They say it takes a village, and I’m thankful I have an army that are willing to go to war with me.
People need people, and boy do I ever have people.
Besides, lemonade is better shared among friends than alone.
So yes, life can be bitter.
But it can also be sweet.
Oh so sweet.
And as always,
Fight the good fight!