There’s a very thin line between stability and crumbling back into a depressed and anxious mess that I walk every day. It involves a tremendous amount of energy to stay balanced. Every day I have to choose whether it is worth it to keep going with that stability. Not taking care of myself is always the easier option but, I know what that feels like, and I know I don’t want to feel that way again. I don’t want to vacillate between feeling 1,000 emotions at once and feeling completely numb…it just doesn’t feel good.
It takes a lot of energy to take care of myself when I haven’t been used to taking care of myself for…I don’t know…let’s say…my whole life. It takes a long time for taking care of yourself to feel normal and comfortable. New “stable” emotions can feel fake or forced, but you have to stick with them. You have to keep going until they feel like the new normal. I haven’t gotten there yet, but I’m hoping that day will come soon.
Yes, I am lucky enough to feel joy and happiness (emotions that were buried for a long time), but they don’t just come naturally now that I’m on the right meds, am exercising, etc. I have to do so much more than that to stay afloat. I have to keep up with my basics each day, self-soothe each day, and make sure that I’m in touch with my community each day. People who have had these things built into their lives “naturally” will probably have no idea what I’m talking about here. But, to the others who get it: it’s exhausting sometimes, isn’t it? Just to do what should be normal human things. It makes sense that it’s exhausting…I’m retraining my brain and my body to learn a different way of living than I was used to for at least 15–20 years.
I don’t have much additional wisdom here except to say that while acknowledging that being able to take care of myself is exhausting, it’s also a privilege, and I don’t take it lightly. Not everyone with mental illnesses are afforded the luxury of being able to take care of themselves in a way that brings them to a better mental state. Some are too worried about where they’ll find shelter or food, much less getting the appropriate medical treatment. So, I need to remember: it’s a privilege to be exhausted in this way. I’m lucky to be able to have the choice to take care of myself, and the ability to work toward a new normal.