A few weeks ago I shared with my friend, Stacy, a new perspective I’d recently come to about myself and my life:
I’m mentally ill and not going to be “fixed,” even with therapy.
No. Surprisingly, the idea that I am mentally ill brought me relief. “If I’m mentally ill, I shouldn’t expect more from myself than is reasonable. If I am mentally ill, that means I don’t have to keep up the unending, self-incriminating attempts to discover and solve the underlying causes (behaviors? thoughts?) which have brought about my years of depression. I just need to work through the symptoms of my depression (and creative mania) as they show up. Take one day at a time. Give myself a break. Be grateful for the good days, amazed at the occasional accomplishment, and kind/gentle with myself on the days I am having a hard time.”
Ironic though it may seem, I experienced tremendous relief, sustainable self-compassion, and renewed commitment to my wellbeing when I concluded that I’m not fixable. I now expect (rather than lament) that there will be days of depression, and when they come, I take note; talk with my hubby about what I’m experiencing; decide what I want to do during the depressive episode (go to bed? take a hike? talk things out? make a planning list?); and trust that it will pass before long.
Not sure if I am officially mentally ill, but at least today I’m okay with that hypothesis.