It Gets Better

I didn’t think I’d be writing about mental health again so soon. But listening to the secrets at PostSecret really inspired me. So many of the secrets were relatable. Some of the funny were relatable, but some of the more serious were too. It made me think that maybe my experience with mental illness would help someone else. That telling my story could lead someone else to tell theirs. The one secret that really inspired me was that of someone who tried to commit suicide and that he learned failure wasn’t always a bad thing. Why? Because it gets better.

It gets better.

It wasn’t very long ago that I didn’t believe that. I was drowning in depression. When you’re swallowed up by darkness, it’s so hard to believe there can be any path to relief. It had been so long that I didn’t expect anything else. I didn’t know how bad I was until I started to feel better. I would have never guessed that I was that bad. Sure, I didn’t have energy or want to do anything. All I wanted to, and all I did do, was sleep. Now,  I feel like some of my friends don’t even totally know me. It’s been a long time since I felt like myself. It is really the coolest feeling ever. It might seem so simple, but I really thought that I had lost myself. And now I’m back. I’m not exactly sure how I got here, but I’m back.

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I have a few inklings on what helped me, but I also know that it wasn’t one thing or another. Treatment for mental illness is so hard. I am on three different medications. Many people have very strong opinions about medicating mental illness and believe it is over medicated. It’s hard not to let those things bother you. I hate taking pills. Every day I hate it. But the medications help enough that I notice a difference. Without them, I can’t function. They keep me functioning. I might not have been doing a ton or been the most productive, but I was still getting out of bed every day. That can be huge when you’re battling mental illness. So many days went by where I didn’t want to do a damn thing, and it was a challenge to take a shower. A couple missed doses made me soon realize that those pills were making a difference in me. It might not have been a lot. But to me, that difference was the world. I couldn’t imagine that there was still more to me than that.

Feeling better was a wonderful realization. It was almost like seeing when you put a pair of glasses on. Everything was crisp and clear again. I had been in a fog so long that I didn’t even realize it anymore. What’s crazier is that I know this is just the start. I know I have things to still work on, especially my anxiety. My anxiety isn’t under control yet. As crazy (no pun intended) as it sounds, not feeling depressed and feeling normal is truly a beautiful thing. It is so wonderful to be myself again and not feel like just a shell of myself. And I can’t wait to get to know myself again. I’m noticing things are easier to deal with, and they aren’t all consuming like before. It’s definitely a start.

When I was at the PostSecret show listening to the story of the failed suicide, a quote from The Last Jedi came to mind. Master Yoda says to Luke Skywalker, “The greatest teacher, failure is.” I thought this was really interesting in context of this secret. His failure changed and saved his life. It was most likely the greatest lesson he ever learned – and even more so as he continued to live and experience life. I found it to be such a fascinating concept. And he was using his failure to teach someone else – that it does get better. It does exist.

With feeling better, there was another quote from The Last Jedi that I think of, although the context I am using it in is a little bit different. Luke Skywalker says to his twin, Leia Organa, “No one’s ever really gone.” His meaning could be multiple – her husband’s recent death or his own impending death (that neither of them would ever really leave her) or her son’s fall to the Dark Side and rise into evil, implying that Ben Solo was still within Kylo Ren. I find it applicable because I didn’t realize how much I believed that I was gone. I had no idea how much of me was being suppressed by depression until parts of me started to creep back, into the light so to speak. But it is possible to get better from mental illness. It gets better. The fog will lift, and you’ll see the world in an entirely new way. You’ll wonder why your cheeks, and you’ll realize it’s because you haven’t smiled that much in so long. Also, I’ve been so awake and had so much energy that I don’t know what to do with. That’s how I started blogging again. It’s actually an amazing thing.

Maybe you feel that I’m talking in circles. But I can’t stress enough how grateful I am that I kept fighting. That despite everything I felt, I kept going forward. All I had hoped for was something of a half-life. I honestly never imagined that I would feel this well since it felt so out of reach. I still have work to do. And I’m trying. I’ve been reading more, something the “old me” loved to do, and with that, I’ve been reading a lot of self-help types of books (including one right now called How to Get Shit Done by Erin Falconer which is amazing and every twenty-something woman should read). I’m back on a workout routine and physically aiming to get stronger. I’m looking into meditation and maybe taking yoga classes. And yes, I’m still taking medication.

This happiness may be temporary. I may be on the path to more happiness. I may end up falling down again. The difference though, is now I know that it’s not going to stay this way forever. That even within the darkness and depression, I still exist somewhere. Holding onto that, that sliver of hope, can make all the difference in the world. I had a problem with self harm. Sometimes, I can’t look away form the scars. Recently, I felt that I am well enough to move on from that too. I plan on getting the scars covered with a tattoo. I don’t need a constant reminder of my illness. Art, like flowers, will be better instead.

Change isn’t always easy. But it can be a good thing. A welcome thing, even. To me, it’s a whole new world out there. I know how hard it is to believe it. I wouldn’t have if I wasn’t experiencing it. But it gets better. It does get better.

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