I truly enjoy reading the blog of “Depression Time”. I can not only relate to what is being said, but can also take into account that I am not there anymore while part of me is still there. By “there” I mean at that particular stage in the illness. You know, grieving and all that it has to offer; denial, anger, numbness and at the same time a feeling of being overly sensitive. It is hard to keep in mind these things when it is your mind that is being affected.
I especially related to his most recent post, entitled: “The Biggest Lie”. We all do it. Everyone with a chronic illness knows about “the lie”. That way you sort of coax and con yourself into believing that you don’t need help ‘anymore’. That mental broken record of, “I’m better now than I was then,” or “I can wean myself off my medicine/therapy/etc and still be ok, maybe even better!” My favorite one of all is, “I’ll just think myself healthy.” You don’t actually say this one to yourself, but it’s what you mean. When you tell yourself to use positive thinking in place of medicine or therapy, then you’re basically telling yourself that you will think your way healthy. Think. Healthy. That might work if it wasn’t your thinking that was the problem to begin with. Think. Unhealthy. Hulk Smash. Me Think Unhealthy.
So the premise is that you buy into it. You get worked up in the positive-thinking module. Who wouldn’t? We all want to believe that we are in total control and can change anything about ourselves. But we can’t. That’s right. I’m saying the big, bad, four letter word. Can’t. Hulk Smash. Me Can’t.
I remember being in First Grade and having the teacher talk to us after story time. We were all huddled onto the cartoony styled carpet and listening with the fullest attention our minds could offer. I distinctly remember her saying that can’t is a bad word and we should never use it. She told us that we always can, if we try hard enough. Talk about setting people up for a fall. Our society is so big on controlling ourselves and our destinies by just thinking we can do it that we fail to see reality. We can’t. Instead of teaching us to adapt to these difficulties, we are taught to ignore them; to conquer them like the barbaric Conan. We hear testimony after testimony of other people being able to do this and being happy to boot. There must be something wrong with us if we can’t do it, too. There’s not.
You see, being able to recognize that you can’t do something is far more wise. You can weigh options, you can dredge yourself in self-pity, and you can try to find other people who can’t. I think that’s a lot more significant than pushing yourself to unreasonable and inappropriate expectations and goals. You might not be able to do what you wanted but you can learn from this. That’s more important than trying to kill yourself in order to reach that far-fetched fairy tale.
Why do we set ourselves up? Each.And.Every.Time. Because of the rush. You know what I mean, that adrenaline rush you get when you’ve convinced yourself you CAN. “YEA! I can so totally do this!” you tell yourself. Cue rush. Cue denial. It’s so easy to believe that you can when you have a myriad of hormones and chemicals pumping through your body that make you feel invincible. That’s what it all comes back to; the way we feel. That’s where the trouble lies.
We believe that we are supposed to feel a certain way, all the time. Happy is supposed to be 24/7 and if we’re not happy, than there’s something wrong with us. Again, there isn’t. Hulk Smash. Me Not Happy.
We are human beings designed to feel a wide range of emotions. To set ourselves up with the belief that we are supposed to be obliviously happy all the time is a con. When you throw into the works the wrench of Mental Illness, you get a much more compounded con. You beat yourself up for not feeling happy. You worry to the point of anxiety attacks about it. You wonder, “What’s wrong with ME?” It’s just not worth it. It has taken me decades of struggle with Mental and Physical Illness before I discovered that the way I feel is valid and it’s confusing at the same time. The best thing, for me, to do is to just accept it. Stop trying to attain that lofty goal based on how you feel NOW. Set up some realistic goals: I’m going to get out of bed and shower today. Give yourself the luxury of feeling good about these goals. They might seem little and even laughable to others, but they are important to you.
I wanted to comment on Depression Time’s blog about all of this, but I didn’t quite know how to say it. It’s hard to separate yourself from your illness. In fact, it’s outright impossible. You are sharing a body and brain with these things. They are apart of you. That doesn’t mean they have to be your only sense of identity. It is healthy to express yourself through your other identifiers: creativity, practicality, values, etc. They are all important, too. As much as we fight it, these illnesses are with us for life. It’s not a good thing, but it’s just like failure. We learn from it. We have to learn to stop beating ourselves up over failure and start going, “Oh, that didn’t work. What else?” This is sooo hard to do when you’re not thinking or feeling in a healthy way. The world is over when you fail.. you’re a horrible person who doesn’t deserve to live when you fail. Worst of all, you feel like that was it.. that was your only shot. How could you do this to yourself? Again?!
You blame yourself and demand all sorts of unreasonable explanations when it’s not even your fault. You have an illness and you (like everybody else with one) are still learning about it and how to live with it. Keep it up! You really are doing a good job. It just doesn’t seem that way, sometimes.