What it Feels Like

I stumbled across this article courtesy of Facebook: The Jumble of Chronic Mental Illness

I just got back from vacation with a friend that I know from treatment, and we were both remarking at how we have “old lady” pill boxes.  I could also relate to where she says “Every therapist I have had (I am too embarrassed to say how many) has done some gentle prodding, asking if maybe I suffered abuse as a child, since many of my symptoms seem to align with those of people who have. I spent years racking my brain, trying to remember, wondering if there’s someone I could blame in all of this. In some ways it would be a relief to know that something caused all of this.”  I am very lucky to not have had major trauma in my life or a bad childhood, but in a way it would be nice to have a reason or a cause to point to.  Instead, I just feel guilty because I am still depressed in spite of having every opportunity a person could ask for.

These two paragraphs were my favorite: “I do not like being like this. But I have accepted it. It’s not like a cancer that you can fight, and maybe it will go away for good. For a long time I thought it was, and expended energy I didn’t have trying to draw a demarcation line between the illness and myself, pretending we were two separate entities. Now that I have accepted it as something that will most likely always be a part of me, it is easier…there are things you have to do to keep yourself sane that other people will not like or understand, and sometimes those people end up being collateral damage. On those days when your own brain is your mortal enemy, other people are going to suffer too. You can only apologize so many times, and it’s easy to understand that there comes a point where the apologies seem meaningless, where people assume you are just willfully fucking up again and again, too lazy or unconcerned to act differently. I’m not excusing the genuinely shitty things I have done. But there are things that were not my idea, and although it may sound ludicrous for me to say there are times when I cannot control myself, it’s true.”

Recently, I have been working on accepting that I have, as my therapist says, a “persistent” mental illness.  I am working on accepting that I may have to make accommodations in my life to keep myself healthy and out of the hospital.  I desperately want to be “normal” and be able to skip a meal or snack here and there, have nights where I don’t sleep much etc.  However, every time I do those things I end up back in a cycle of eating disorder behaviors and exhaustion.  So, I am going to have to accept that there are things I have to do to keep myself healthy, and also accept that I am not going to be perfect all the time.  While I don’t want to make others suffer (as she says), I also can’t just keep pretending that everything is fine all of the time.

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