Happy New Year! Are you thinking of setting some new year’s resolutions?
January 2nd and already – I wanna just plop my bum down on the ground and give up.
I wanna give up, I wanna give up, I wanna give up.
I wanna give up like a kid wants fruit roll-up, like a mouse wants cheese, like a cat wants the red dot.
I want someone to just tell me what to do for goodness sake, because I simply cannot think 2 steps ahead right now. It is tempting even to myself to think I’m immature, or that not being able to do a lot of key things by myself is due to some kind of sense of entitlement.
But the thing is, I remember being able to do things. I still am able to sometimes – and then, the relief is huge. It washes over me when some whisper in my mind reminds me what those little steps required to get moving are, or when some unsuspecting soul has to spell it out for me and I finally intellectualize the steps involved to..begin the day, for instance, or more pressingly on my mind right now, to write terrifyingly overdue papers.
I used to do it without even thinking – get up to an alarm, shower, get dressed, grab food, go where I need to go.
You don’t realize the millions of infinitesimal steps that make up the thousand tiny steps that make up the hundreds of small steps that make up your life – you don’t realize you know what they are on autopilot, not until your autopilot is taken over by your constant, low level terror.
You don’t know what you have till it’s gone. You especially don’t know how precious your health is until it fails you.
One more thing I want to talk about – those unsuspecting people I mentioned, the ones who love me so much they want to help. And – who I dearly love back. They are perpetually unsuspecting, these loved ones, forever telling me they will never really know how I feel. Forever bewildered because I seem so capable, that no matter how many times I struggle to do something ordinary as a result of my GAD, it is always a shock to them.
And I am forever stuck acting capable as things begin to crumble – too terrified that if I’m not ‘capable’, I don’t have value. Too terrified that if I’m not healthy, mentally, I don’t have value. Always hoping that tomorrow I’ll be a different person and this anxiety business will be something I can just quickly sweep under the table, no one has to know. Here’s an excellent article describing why new year’s resolutions don’t work, which in fact also explains why this fantasy of mine will never work as well. I won’t be a different person tomorrow. What I’ll be doing this year is continuing to try to come to terms with my limitations.
This is especially challenging given the stigma that mental illness carries.
So here I will personally address my unsuspecting, bewildered family and best friends. The ones (with the exception of boyfriend) with whom I have not been brave enough to share this blog.
I hear you, loved ones, waiting guiltily for the day this all ‘blows over’. When I go ‘back to normal’ and you can ‘stop worrying about me’. I hear you because I have just the same dreams and it all stems from the simple fact that we don’t see mental illness as an illness, not really. It’s there in that stinging phrase – “she lost her mind” – she couldn’t hold on to it, she failed.
She could ‘catch’ it again, that mind of hers, if she really wanted. Come back to her senses. Have some common sense. Buckle down. Pull herself together.
To stop seeing my mental illness as a personal failing, as something that really I can just snap out of, is to go against the grain of not only my own underlying beliefs, but to go against the general attitude of society. I know, my beloved unsuspecting ones, that it is just as difficult for you to do, too. Perhaps I am impatient with you because I am so envious of your mental clarity.
You think, “how can I understand? I’m not even sick!”
While I think, “how can you not understand? You’re not even sick!”
I think it’s pretty funny, if I can look at it like that.