Monday, May 30, 2016

Collecting Thoughts

This series didn't go where I wanted it to, and there's a lesson to learn from that. Whereas I usually don't publish unless I feel like my writing is an Instagrammable açaí bowl—tasteful, healthy, well laid out—this time all I could muster was a bowl of overcooked and left-out-too-long oatmeal—thick, unappealing, but it does the job.

I took a look at the posts for MHM that I did this time last year. They're not badly written but my outlook changed moderately since then. In the time since then, I've had amazing experiences in college and my mental health has indeed improved. The thing is, I still struggle a lot with mental health: horrible dissociative episodes (especially the recurring identity crisis, which is especially nasty), social anxiety that prevents me from leaving the house some days, panic attacks every so often, depression that I've been managing to keep at bay, regular anxiety just to keep things interesting, and who knows what else.

But my attitude towards recovery has changed. Whereas I used to believe that "the end goal is recovery," I am now of the opinion that success in mental health issues is making the choice to get up in the morning, having a horrible day or a great day, and going to sleep with the ability to make that choice again the next day. It's fun and easy to dream about having a life completely recovered with no mental health problems whatsoever, but that's not realistic. There will be good days, maybe even for weeks at a time, but for some people, mental health is a struggle that is lifelong, and their success is lifelong, even if some days are more difficult that others.

I attended a Mental Health monologues event last semester. A quote that stood out to me is that, "The burden doesn't get lighter, but your muscles get stronger." That is the essence of living with mental illnesses. It doesn't get better, you get better at dealing with it. And that's ok. ◊

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