When I think of Sarah Comerford, my mind starts to race with all sorts of adjectives. I could throw around words like, wonderful, marvellous, steadfast, courageous, enchanting, and they would all apply to her. But, I think for me, Sarah represents True North; funny I know seeing how she lives in Hawaii. I say this because when someone is lost, what is the first thing they are told to do? Find out which direction North is, and Sarah is North for so many people. She is that compass that gives people courage and strength. The people that she helps are able to just stop and breathe, regain their sense of calm and peace, and try again. She is encouraging, validating, and she is kind. Sarah is not only a Stigma Fighter; she also volunteers her time as a Content Manager for Stigma Fighters Deaf as well as holding the position of Director of Franchise Operations for Stigma Fighters. She is a fiery, radiant, and a kick ass woman. Thank you Sarah, for everything you do for others. It is so appreciated and has not gone unnoticed.
Where I Come From
By Sarah Comerford
Some days I just want to curl up and die. Like one of the desiccated millipedes I so often find on the sidewalk outside my house on overcast mornings, laying there as if they crawled out of whatever hidey-hole was their little millipede-home, said, “fuck it”, and just curled up and died. Some days, I feel like that.
The thing that really gets me, though, is the complete lack of reason behind that feeling. Life is good. I have an amazing family, a job I love, and a stable home. When I was a teenager, going through the first throes of depression that would eventually become the rhythm of my life, I used to think that once I had those things I would finally be whole, and be henceforth unperturbed by vicious sadness. When I grow up, I thought, it will be different. I would make it different. It never occurred to be that what I was experiencing was not wholly environmental.
Still, I wonder: what is nature and what is nurture? What in me is the result of natural processes, gene selection, a millennia of selective breeding coming down to create a female hominid with brown eyes, brown hair, and a bad attitude, and how much of that is a result of environmental factors, the way I was raised, the people around me? Where do I draw the line between chemical and insubstantial?
I suppose it doesn’t matter much. What it is has come down to is this: there are damages to be assessed. The primary concern is no longer the how or the why that lead us here, but the mess that we are left with. I am a mess, and this is a family disease. The burden of recovery is heaped on the survivor, on top of the burden of shame, which is shared among all parties. I survived my upbringing, when untreated mental illness and alcoholism threatened to ruin me. I continue to share the shame.
I don’t want my daughter to be a survivor.
I am breaking the cycle. I am doing something that my forebears, all survivors of their own circumstances, neglected or were unable to do: I have decided to stop surviving my life, and start living it. Starting with treatment, then by defining my own spirituality, and finally, with gratitude, I have begun making the shift from victim to victor.
I am not perfect, nor do I strive to be. I am alive, fighting to live my life free from the shackles of a mind that sometimes wants to kill me. When I find myself taking inventory of my sadness, and why and how it came to be, I must make a conscious shift toward gratitude and remind myself that this illness does not determine what kind of mother, wife, or person I am capable of being. This illness does not prevent me from being the absolute best interpreter I can be, nor the absolute best friend and ally. Everyday is a fight and everyday is a victory — because I have yet to give up.
Sarah Comerford is a Jill of All Trades living in Honolulu, HI. When not working, writing, or chasing her toddler through the park, she is likely found curled up with a book and relishing the silence. She blogs at TheRealSarahC and shares her increasingly random thoughts on Twitter