It’s interesting how people treat mental illness as this sort of separate entity to you. This thing you need to defeat, as if it were something that has it’s own will and agenda, like a bacteria that has infected you. I wonder if that is where some of the hatred of your own mind comes from, you imagine your illness as something foreign that has no business being inside you, an enemy.
When you go to therapy they tell you you need to change your way of thinking, redirect and dissect thoughts that causes you to act or feel a certain way. It’s a little shocking to have someone tell you that no, it’s not like an infection, that your illness is a part of you. It will never go away. You will have times, hopefully years and years, when you can manage it, but it will never be truly gone. I feel like one of the first reactions when someone tells you this is defensiveness. If it’s a part of me, why should I change it? My brain does all these things for me automatically, like breathing, and loving, who are you to tell me this isn’t it’s way of protecting me? It’s hard to accept that your mind is doing something that is destructive, when all your life you’ve trusted it. Especially when so much of mental illness is subconscious, you aren’t even aware when you are rationalizing these thoughts that lead to you act the way you do.
Mental illness illness is difficult to deal with because you lose trust in yourself. You don’t understand why you can’t just take medication to fix your brain. You are too tired and too angry with yourself to help yourself. It takes a long time to change a part of you, and everyone is so impatient. It’s a big burden knowing you are the one standing in the way of yourself.
“I feel like one of the first reactions when someone tells you this is defensiveness. If it’s a part of me, why should I change it? My brain does all these things for me automatically, like breathing, and loving, who are you to tell me this isn’t it’s way of protecting me?”
…hm, to be honest I think this was some of the same reactions I had when I was confronting my own prejudices.
Yes. Yes. Yes. It took me so long to stop hating my brain for being my brain and just accept that this is the way I am. In some ways, it was easier to accept the ADD diagnosis than the depression, not just because it came later on, when I was already working on helping myself, but because the diagnosis came with a clearer method of handling the disorder.
With the ADD, I had to create a schedule, keep myself busy, strategize. I didn’t have to change how I thought, per se, I just had to figure out how to tweak it to my own benefit. And that was difficult, yes, but not as hard—at least for me—as learning to accept that my life is worth living. That as incredibly broken and fucked-up and awful as I felt, I wasn’t beyond helping and surviving.
How can you teach someone how to do that? How can you get someone to believe that when they’ve already convinced themselves that it wouldn’t matter if they were gone? And they keep convincing themselves over and over again, and they keep rationalizing, and they counter every argument thrown at them. Because it already feels like the pills are the only thing keeping them together (or aren’t), and pills are bad, so why keep going?
And it took so long to realize that pills are okay, that being medicated is not the end of the world, but it’s important not to place too much importance on them in your life. You can’t depend on them. You can depend on yourself, and sometimes even the people around you.
You can turn your “illness”, your disorder, into something different. Yes, I still get depressed, but I also write fucking beautiful things if I push past the sadness and the anger. Yes, I have an attention deficit, but I’m also ridiculously efficient if you give me four different things to work on at once, and don’t mind that I hop from one task to another.
My disorders are me. I can control how they impact my life. It’s hard, so fucking hard, because people don’t understand and I’m still a work in progress and some days I want to give up again, but I’ve come this far and changed this much and I will make it worth it.