Broken bones heal.
A cut is stitched closed and heals.
Infections are treated with antibiotics and are cured.
Muscle aches and pains, while not visible to others, can be treated over time and suffering ends.
How are illnesses of the mind treated? Is there a treatment that heals, cures or ends suffering? The answer is not a simple yes or no. Unlike broken bones, cuts and infections, there are diseases that have no immediate or long-lasting cure. A great example, presented to me by a physician, is diabetes. If you are diabetic you NEED insulin. There isn’t a cure. There isn’t a way to heal yourself of this illness. Does this mean a mental illness has no cure? You can’t get better from depression? No. There is no cure. You won’t get “better”. You can feel well though. That wellness comes from doing the work. There are ways to manage your illness. Acknowledging your mental illness is the first step on the road to recovery. Understand you have a condition that requires work on a consistent basis. I’m still learning this.
I wanted to believe a new diagnosis and a better understanding of my thinking would make me “better”. This thinking is how I started to feel not-so-good. This is okay though. A couple things happened that made this experience a positive event. There are a few people in my life right now who are fully aware of my situation and are my support team. I trust each of them. I also know I can get angry and frustrated with each of them and not receive harsh judgment.
The other day, I was convinced I was not well. To such a degree that I was erasing all my hard work and assuming all the positive changes I had implemented were a waste of my time, I was a failure. I wanted to run. One of my support people, would not let me run. I was angry. I felt very frustrated that this person had no idea what I felt and couldn’t possibly understand how I was feeling. I didn’t run though. Another of my support people did not entertain my emotions of the day. This person was not going to allow me to succumb to my feelings.
The next day, I gave myself permission to hide. I was still not being entertained by two of my support people. My final support person is my psychologist. I had a session with her that wasn’t playing out as I wanted it to. She wasn’t letting me run. She wasn’t letting me believe my thoughts. She wanted to know what else was going on. In my mind, there was nothing else going on. I changed the subject and started to tell her about the other five active situations that are playing out in my life. I was telling her how I was managing each of them. How I was patiently taking one step at a time and making thoughtful decisions. How I didn’t feel stress from any of these situations. She asked, “You have all that going on?” I replied, “Yes.” She commented, “And you are handling all of those things, really well?” Hmmm. That’s interesting. Look at all the things I’ve taken on. I’m allowing one little thing to turn into a ginormous issue. I’m also allowing myself to feel like a failure rather than celebrating my wins.
How did I do that? I stopped working. I stopped working on me. I assumed I would just “naturally” be able to handle all situations. Guess what?! I didn’t suddenly become ill. A lifetime of events brought me to where I am today. During this time I learned a way of thinking that is detrimental to my mental health. Being aware of my thoughts doesn’t mean I suddenly know how to stop them. Being aware of my thoughts doesn’t mean they’ll stop affecting me. Awareness is only one part of the treatment. My thoughts now need new answers. They need to hear a different perspective. They need to have less impact. This is what I need to work on now. I can’t just run and avoid all situations that will give me harmful thoughts. I won’t be able to leave my house if that happens. I need to fight. I need to do the work that will provide the skills to combat my thinking. My thinking may never change, just as a diabetic will always need insulin. How my thoughts are allowed to make me feel, is completely in my control.
Less than six months ago, my thinking and how it made me feel, led me down a dangerous road. I started down that road again, not thinking there is a different way. There is a way that allows me to celebrate my successes. There is a way that allows me to “feel”. There is a way that allows me to choose what I do with those feelings. I’m learning I have the power to make a detour around the dangerous road. With these skills, I can feel empowered over my emotions. It’s not easy work, by any stretch of the imagination. It’s positive work. As hard as it will be, it is positive!