I had two big realizations recently. The first is this: all of this time that I've been living with mental illness, I was under the assumption that I would be cured someday. Cured of depression, anxiety, trichotillomania, and everything else I live with. I thought it was all just a sickness (like coming down with the flu), and if I found the right combination of medications and participated in the right combination of therapies, I would eventually be fixed and function like a normal human someday. But then, it hit me: what if I can't be cured? What if my mental illness is not like a sickness, but something inside me that is permanently broken—something that will always be a part of my life? What if I'm broken in a way that can't be completely fixed?
This whole time I was looking for a cure for my mental illnesses, but my attempts to be cured have only gone so far as to treat the symptoms that I live with, and to make life a little bit more manageable (sometimes significantly so, sometimes not so much). After nearly two decades of hoping for a cure, I'm still living with mental illness each day. I'm not cured. I'm not fixed. I'm not normal. And I don't think I ever will be.
This leads to my second realization: I've never fully accepted myself as a person who is mentally ill. Until now, I've been accepting myself under a false pretense: that I'll be better someday. I haven't really loved myself for who I truly am; I loved myself under the condition that I won't always be this broken, that someday I'll be fixed—normal—and then I can really, truly love myself. But I am mentally ill. I have to accept that this is who I am, and my illnesses will always be a part of my life.
These realizations haven't been easy to sit with. I'm the kind of person who wants to fix everything. If I see something broken or out of place, I want to fix it. I can't just let it be. I want to help. I want to make things better. I want everything to be okay. So, it's hard to accept that there's something about myself that I can't fix. It's hard to accept that I can't make myself normal.
So, I think I need to stop trying to be a normal human, because that's not who I am. I need to stop pretending that I'm okay. I need to stop pretending that I'm going to be cured someday and that everything will be fine. Instead, I need to accept myself for who I am right now. I have to accept myself for the messy jumble of guts and bones and tears and hope and laughter and weirdness and whatever else it is that I am. I want to accept myself. I need to accept myself. I have to try to accept myself.
I'm 31 years old. I am mentally ill. I'm a little broken, a little weird, a little abnormal. And, maybe, that's okay.
By the way, next week I'll be on vacation, so I'll be taking a short vacation from writing, as well. But I'll be back and blogging as usual the following week. Now here's your song of the week.