If you get the flu in life, or many other symptomatic illnesses, you treat them upon seeing the symptoms, and within a few days, said symptoms diminish and then disappear. However, the battle with mental illness is less of a sprint, and more of a marathon. For all those who understand the daily struggle of coping with depression, eating disorders and anxiety and panic, you will recognise the struggle that no matter how hard you work, you can’t seem to make your symptoms disappear.
Of course, there are many methods that we look to in which we try. I support a lot of people who don’t agree with medication to treat/help the symptoms of mental illness, but I am a user of anti-depressants and beta blockers for my anxiety out of personal choice. Now, I hold my hands up and admit that for a long time, probably even years, I would want to scream and cry and shout out to ask the world why weren’t these little pills fixing me? Why hasn’t it all disappeared? Why aren’t I cured?
I have since come to the conclusion that mental illness is just simply not going to disappear, and the realisation that I will probably be battling my demons for the rest of my life, to some extent. I accept this, and I have come to terms with it. In a way, my battle and my overcoming of so many of my demons that in the past I never would have believed I could have battled, has made me a stronger person and a better version of myself. Therefore, in lots of ways I am thankful for what the world has handed to me. I do truly believe that everything happens for a reason and we are never handed things in life that we cannot handle or overcome. Things are definitely sent to try us! Of course, this is not to say that I don’t have many days when I beg and beg a higher being or force…someone, somewhere, to make me “normal”, and take away my irrational thoughts and fears. This is an internal conflict that does go on a lot!
But I look how far I have come, and how many hurdles I have overcome over my some 14 years of suffering with mental illness.
- I do not get anxiety at every social occasion
- I am able to hold down a relationship
- I feel more positive about life and where I am going
- I have goals, aspirtions and dreams
- I can eat in the company of others within my home and in situations I feel comfortable
- I no longer make myself sick
- I am now a healthy weight
- I don’t suffer nearly as many panic attacks as I used to
- I have achieved things I never thought I would
- I surprise myself every day
- BUT the most important success to me…is that I actually want to live. I don’t want to die.
I still have a long list of things I have not yet conquered, a list of ways I am not quite happy with myself, and a list of ways I will continue to test and push myself. The important thing to me is, not that I overcome every issue all at once, because that simply isn’t possible. You can’t take a tablet for it, you can’t think your way out of it in one passing thought, and you can’t expect progress to be instantaneous. What you should do however, is celebrate the hurdles you have jumped, and knowing you have the strength within you to do things you thought would never be possible in your life will only make you stronger to jump the next one. It also will make you fight harder, knowing the change you can make, and the change you want to see to live the life you want to lead. Look how far you have come instead of how far you have to go, and draw strength from that.
I’m still trying, I’m still jumping my hurdles…but hey, I’ll have a great, strong pair of legs when I’ve finished the race!