Silver Linings, Sugar Skulls and Symbolism

Last week I finally watched the movie Silver Linings Playbook. I have to say I loved it and the message that you can overcome hardships by keeping a positive attitude. Plus my football team the Philadelphia Eagles were featured, always a good thing. I tend to be more on the depressed side with my bipolar versus manic, so maintaining a positive outlook can be hard, but I always maintain hope. Hope or faith, whichever you prefer, keeping a positive outlook and looking for the silver lining in a crummy situation has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. It doesn’t mean sticking your head in the sand and ignoring how bad things are. It means acknowledging that things are bad, but that they aren’t totally bad- there is always some good to be found, I feel.

What good can be found in being bipolar? A lot, actually. It’s taught me to be more in tune to my own needs, to take better care of myself. I’m learning to tune out the garbage other people might say and to honor my own voice. I also remind myself that it’s only bipolar, which obviously one will still live after being diagnosed with. I’ve met and come in contact with some amazing people who suffer from mental illness and I learned something from all of them. 

I admit that I allow what other people say and do to affect me far too much. From family and  friends to fellow bloggers to coworkers to random strangers, I let their opinions get in the way. It clouds my own judgement and I wind up feeling disappointed, silly or “less than”. I’m slowly learning that my own voice, my own opinion is the only one I really and truly need to listen to. This new found realization, long in the making, came from a strange source: Mexican Sugar Skulls and home decoration.

My friend was visiting my condo the other day and I was showing her the sugar skull artwork I was going to be purchasing. I had heard an opinion that decorating my bedroom with skulls was a bit odd, but this friend really liked the idea and when she explained why, I was even more convinced I was honoring my own opinion. Mexican sugar skulls are sugar candies shaped like skulls and decorated in a festive manner, believed to ward off evil spirits on Halloween. The skulls are also used to honor loved ones who had passed away and to generally make death seem less scary. My friend and I looked over the artwork and color scheme I had chosen and she said that for me, the sugar skulls made sense- that to her, they represented my bipolar. She said that through my life (and my blog) I was taking something scary and turning it into something else, something good. Much like a brightly decorated skull, I was changing the outlook on my bipolar by approaching it with light and humor. I was really glad someone was seeing things as I was seeing them and acknowledging my own efforts towards keeping positive, to boot!

So whether it’s always looking for the silver lining or finding your own sugar skull symbol, mental illness or whatever hardship you are facing- it doesn’t have to be scary. Being diagnosed with a disease or facing financial problems can overwhelm anyone. The trick is to listen to your own voice and looking at the situation positively rather than catastrophically. Trust and have faith in God, Allah, whomever you worship.  Is there a rough situation or scary experience that you overcame with positivity? Please share your story in the comments!

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