Wednesday, May 4, 2016

8 Things That Having A Mental Health Condition Has Helped Me Stop Giving A Sh*t About

Having a mental health condition sucks. It absolutely, completely does. I've been the worst depression in a long time lately, topped with pretty severe anxiety. Thank goodness my boyfriend is the most patient and understanding and supportive man in the world. I don't know that I'd get through all of this without him, though he promises me I would. But having a mental health condition, and dealing with all of the turmoil, pain (physical, emotional, mental), struggle, stigma, and everything else it brings on, has helped me stop caring so much about a few things that I realize, when compared to... say... my ability to positively function in the world... aren't that important.

  • That you think I'm "crazy". Now, let me clarify. This is NOT saying that this term is ok. It's not. It's ignorant, stigmatizing and downright wrong. But the fact that you personally think I personally am "crazy"? Unless you're using it as a grounds to discriminate against me somehow, I could give a rats ass. Because we're all our own kind of "crazy". Meaning we all have things that make us unique, quirky, different. Maybe I'm a little more different than the average person. So what? Do I really care what someone who is clearly ignorant and judgmental and stigmatizing thinks just because I'm not like everyone else? No. But if I hear you using the term to refer to someone, or mental health in general ... well let's just say I've been doing a lot of boxing training lately. 
  • Being trendy or cool. I've never been trendy or cool. Ever. And honestly, I've kind of always marched to my own drummer and not cared. But having a chronic illness puts things in perspective even further. It makes me realize that I have no choice but to be my own person, because I can't possibly be like everyone else even if I wanted to. And, it's given me a group of spoonie friends who get this, and realize that staying alive and functioning in day to day life is way more important than if you have the latest hairstyle. Also, I spend a crapload of money on therapy appointments, medications, health insurance, etc. If I'm buying the latest brand names, I'm buying it 75% off on the TJ Maxx sales rack. 
  • Getting drunk. I kind of outgrew this naturally because I'm a 36 year old adult, and therefore should have. It doesn't mean I don't enjoy a good beer or glass of wine or bourbon (or two). But I already lack enough control over my brain sometimes. Why the hell would I want to lack even more? Plus, alcohol is a known depressant and I suffer from depression naturally so that doesn't make for a good combination. Plus again, priorities. "Hey, I'm finally having a good day! Let me do something so I won't remember it!..". No. Let me relish actually feeling ok and enjoying a day with my loved ones.... that I'll remember in full detail and not be feeling massive effects of later. 
  • Staying out/up late.  Similar to the above. Lack of sleep makes me cycle. When I'm finally not cycling, why do I want to stay up late and chance lacking sleep, and therefore cycling (I am unable to sleep in past 7:30 or 8 AM unless I'm severely ill or jet-lagged)? I'd rather actually continue to catch up on sleep that I've missed from waking up due to cycling or anxiety the rest of the week/month. 
  • Material things. I never really cared about these, but now, I really, really don't. Yes, I have a Mac. Yes, I have an iphone 6. These products help me work, and more importantly, keep me in touch with friends and loved ones. But similar to being cool or trendy, I have priorities, and having the biggest tv on the block or the newest coach bag are not among them, even remotely. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with you wanting these, but quite frankly, I have bigger fish to fry. Like staying alive and feeling sane some days.
  • Being the same size as I was at 21. I will be 37 in September. I take pride in being active and eating healthy and generally keeping in as good health and shape as I can (minus the obvious chronic illnesses, in which I have no choice).  But things change from 21 to 31 to 36, and I am probably never going to be as thin or my body as firm as my younger self unless I'm ill and unnaturally losing weight.  My childbearing curves will surely come in handy when it's time to bear a child, and when I'm taking the best care of myself, I have done pretty well for my age, I think. I have battled body image issues in the past, and I do not want to go back there. I have to eat a certain amount before I take my meds each time, which often means a larger breakfast or extra snack.  So if that means I'm a little curvier and more muscular than thin, well, at least I'm as healthy as possible. 
  • Being popular/having a large group of "friends".  I have an amazing family, a boyfriend who is my best friend and partner in everything, and some very close friends who would do anything for me, and vice versa. I don't need a huge group of people. In fact, as an INFJ introvert, I don't want a huge group of people around me. I want a few close friends that I can count on, and I'm happy to have others who want to do things occassionally, but who I realize aren't my best friends. As I mentioned above, I've never been cool, and I see no reason to start being cool or overly popular now. 
  • Having a big savings account. I never much had the opportunity to care about this before, because let's just say I haven't chosen careers that scream six figures. But the longer I live with chronic illness, the longer I am all about experiencing every positive moment, every "healthy" day (i.e. a-symptomatic/less symptomatic). I want to explore, learn, experience. I have spent the last 15 years exploring the world, and I've been even more gung-ho to do so since being diagnosed.  It's equally true of things closer to home - taking impromptu day trips, visiting a new attraction or museum in my home city, going to the local farmers market to pick out food for the week, family game night (with actual family or close friends). I value lazy Saturday mornings making breakfast and sipping coffee with my boyfriend, because those mornings are precious - we're rarely "lazy", and they give us a chance to spend time relaxing, just the two of us, with nothing on the agenda but enjoying each others' company. This doesn't mean I want to be poor (it's tough to be poor and travel like I want to), but I don't care about having a massive savings account just to have it. I need money to live a comfortable-enough life of experiencing and truly living. Not to just to watch the total increase, and not to buy expensive things that I clearly don't need. 
I'm not saying that caring about these things is wrong. But for me, it's just not that important. It doesn't mean I don't have moments of "I wish I had more money", or "why is nobody around, don't I have any friends?". But they are not my focuses in life.  Quite frankly, I don't have the time or energy. I have too many other things to focus on, like staying healthy, spending quality time with loved ones, and enjoying each good day as much as I can, because I know it won't last very long - that's just the nature of rapid cycling. So while I hate my illness, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone, I have learned and grown from it. And there's a lot that to be said for that. 

No comments:

Post a Comment