Today is nothing poignant necessarily. Nothing too crazy. It’s just crazy for me, and hopefully others can relate.
When you’ve been through a lot, have had a whirlwind of obstacles and challenges come across your path, it’s weird to even imagine a point where those obstacles become manageable. As if you just got a pair of glasses after years of blurry vision and finally seeing the world as it is for the first time.
That’s how I feel. This has been the longest period I have ever felt this…normal. At a mental state where I have some sense of stability. For me, that is something I honestly never thought I’d find.
Maybe it’s just me trying to block everything out of my memory, but it’s hard for me to go back and think about my past mental states, my self-destructive thoughts. So many days of my short life have been spent covered in a blindfold.
I realize that I’m now trudging in unfamiliar territory. I don’t know what life is like without extra weight dragging me down. It’s weird to not always feel dull, or not have my mind racing to different random scenarios in my head, or not counting every crumb I’ve consumed in a day. With all of the extra head space, I almost feel guilty for not immediately going to do more. Pursuing so many different things I would have never dreamed of before.
No matter how awful mental illness is, when you begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel, you almost feel naked. Mental illness has been an everyday battle for me, and even on days that I felt better than normal, it became an easy crutch and excuse to rely upon. If I’m nervous about stepping outside of my comfort zone, even if I know deep down I can handle it, it’s too easy to just call out depression or anxiety and avoid it all.
But there’s no hiding now. I’m more aware of myself than I ever have been. In fact, it’s as if I am now truly embodying my personality. That can lead to new anxieties, of not being good enough even when I’m present. That I am a lost soul meandering into nothing, no end in sight, because my formative years were spent in fog. It’s scary to realize that vulnerability. It presents an unknown, a potential for relapsing back into my lower moods, a world that I don’t know I can fit into.
I also must realize that some aspects of myself are just me, not my mental illness. No amount of therapy or medication can make me care less about having my life especially clean and organized. I’m naturally very critical of myself. I still desire some sense of control over what I encounter in life. As I continue making progress, it’s all about learning about myself, finding out something new every day to better take care of myself.
Yes, the hesitations are real. I cannot deny those. However, with every fear that crosses my mind, an exponential number of benefits outnumber them all. They often arise in very mundane, normal situations, things that most other people wouldn’t think twice about. Like actually wearing shorts in the summer instead of hiding in long pants, even on the hottest of days. Like completing a school assignment without dazing off every few minutes. Like genuinely smiling and feeling emotions.
This journey is one I know I will travel the rest of my life. My genetics don’t allow for those dangerous tendencies to completely dissipate. But that realization doesn’t deter me from still working every day to be my best self, however that may look each passing day. Some mornings will be easier, and others not. If anything, knowing the potential of those easier mornings is more encouragement to remain hopeful and optimistic because normality and happiness are possible. They aren’t just cheesy motivational quotes.
My normal won’t look like yours or anybody else’s. What is a success for me might be a simple task for everybody else, and that is okay. And by no means am I saying that you can just put on a happy face when you’re depressed and you’ll be cured. Trust me, I know the burden of chronic mental illness.
I hope you realize that no matter your struggles in life, if you’ve come out the other side, you are strong. You are capable of facing anything thrown your way. And if you’re in the midst of the battle, keep going. The storm does pass. The rain and wind will batter against the windows and shake your foundation, but if you’re willing to weather it all, willing to accept help when necessary and patch up any damage, then you will be rewarded.
There’s point in not being hopeful. I know there have been times when I couldn’t imagine anything else or was so blind to my own suffering. But knowing that I am sitting here, feeling like I am, accomplishing all that I have thus far, it’s slightly unbelievable. I don’t know if it will ever really sink in, but if I can do anything with this present moment, I want to encourage others. I want to open the blinds so everyone can see the sunshine. Because the clouds cannot stick around forever.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie