To younger people with mental health disorders I wish I could say, “It will be ok.” Man, that is what I hoped to hear from someone when I was younger. The truth is more complex.
Sometimes it will not be ok. It will continue to hurt overwhelmingly at times, unless you are lucky to find a cure. But the hurting is not your fault. In fact it is not bad.
We place this duality of good versus bad on too many things in the universe.
Two of the most popular dualities are happiness and sadness, pleasure and pain. Western society propagates a myth that if you work hard and do the right things you can achieve a steady state of joy and fulfillment. Some forms of religion have even turned it into a moral issue: if you are not happy, something must be wrong.
But that is a lie. A close look at the universe reveals that brokenness belongs in the pattern. Our bodies are made up of the dust of burned out, exploded stars. A thread of frailty and loss weaves inevitably through the bright fabric of our lives.
Although I specifically address psychological pain such as depression, the same applies to other illnesses and disabilities.
Do not believe you are a failure because you feel things keenly, because the whole mess seems incomprehensible or overwhelming. It hurts not because you are a loser but because you are human. Beware anyone, any path or any medicine that promises complete healing.
By this I do not mean you should fire your doctor or therapist, quit taking your medication or give up a spiritual practice. Maybe you should, but we all have to decide for ourselves.
The practical problem is how we can carry on, fit in, find love and make a living. Until society stops discriminating against people with mental and neurological disorders, barriers will remain. We need a better plan.
Meanwhile we must use all the creativity at our disposal to find ways that work for us. For me there are many disadvantages to being self-employed, but probably the greatest benefit is freedom to set my own pace, choose fulfilling work and make the most of my many good days.
I have not been able to keep up with my usual blogging routine recently. An episode of depression hit several weeks ago and has hung around. Ideas are scarce. Concentration dissipates quickly.
I know some work I can do to feel better. Some of those strategies would make another story. Most important is an attitude of forgiveness toward myself and the world for being imperfect.
Existence is not easy, but it is worth the struggle. Trust yourself. Do not compare yourself to people who seem to march through everything carelessly.
Pain might not be ok, but it is not the enemy. It is the counterpoint, the contrast that reveals the beauty and meaning of life.