*Just a heads up. I will be using coarse language in this post. Please be aware that you might be offended by it. Not that I’m concerned with you being offended, but I value you enough to give you a warning at least.*
There’s this strange confidence that has started to build within me over the last few months. The type of deep-seated, inherent focus that can come from overcoming 2 years of hell. The type of foundational, self-assured comfort that begins to take root and grow when you look back at the previous 24 months and see not only external situations you’ve overcome but also the internal strength that has grown. It may seem arrogant. It may seem cocky, but when you come through 6 months where the predominant thoughts are about death, dying, and how you can remove your existence in a quick painless way, while hopefully not traumatizing everyone else too much — well, it’s a little difficult NOT to feel proud, strong and confident. In fact, in my head (speaking to depression) it sounds something like this:
“You had 6 months to destroy me. You lost your chance. Fuck you if you think I’m letting you have that much power over me again. My disease is part of me, and I won’t say otherwise, but it doesn’t run my life anymore. I run my life, and I manage my illness. I refuse to die. I refuse to become a statistic! You lost your chance to destroy me and now I will use your failure to give me strength.”
I feel like I’m a new person. I’m still stuck in the same body (for better or for worse) but my head is so much clearer. I can focus. I enjoy life. I smile more. I feel way more relaxed, and I feel less stress. I speak up where before I’d remain silent. I am a Phoenix raised to life yet again, using the ashes of the old to come back to life yet again. I feel more alive than I can really remember feeling. I feel alive, full of life, lighter, and more focused than ever. I don’t feel the burden of millions of failures (real or imagined) sitting on my shoulders and clouding my vision and mind.
I’m determined. I’m setting goals. I’m growing week by week. Slowly it seems the puzzle pieces are coming together. But don’t misunderstand me. I will not for a second think I have been “cured” from my mental illness. At best, they have gone from active and bent on my destruction to dormant and in remission. This respite may end tomorrow, next month, or next year. And the danger in having done so well is dropping my guard, becoming complacent, and hitting “coast mode”. Constantly being aware, being on guard, is part of recovery. All I’m doing is building momentum. At best, this will help me stay on top of my illnesses for the rest of my life while they remain in remission or manageable. At worst I’m building momentum for when the next wave hits. And if I’m honest, it’s not ‘if’, it’s more like ‘when’. I’m not trying to be fatalistic, pessimistic, or anything of the sort. It’s a sobering reality. But the more positive momentum I have going will surely help offset the next wave of depression when it hits.
For me that transition isn’t a sudden stop, it’s more of a slowdown. Like running on a beach, and then running into the water. You don’t instantly stop when your toes hit the water, but each stride into deeper water gets harder, and each step robs you of your momentum, until each step is slow and exhausting.
But until that time comes, I’m doing what I can to keep myself “full”. Self-care on all levels: mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually — finding whatever tools and assets I can, and incorporating them into my life. It’s self-discipline and finding when to be “soft” and forgiving towards myself, and when to be “harsh” and allowing no excuses. Both approaches are needed, relying too much on one or the other will just hinder my progress.
But that’s where this confidence comes from. Knowing I have an illness. This illness will destroy me if given the chance.
I’m sick. But I’m not weak. And I’m becoming more confident with every week that passes.