Those of you familiar with the therapy known as DBT have likely heard this phrase before. It seems kind of silly – who doesn’t want a life that’s worth something? But then put on your “depressed” hat or your “low self-esteem” hat or your “borderline black/white” hat and you may start to see why some of us, at some points in our life, either can’t see that life really could be living or don’t have the vaguest idea how to start that process.
Once you’ve fallen so far down the rabbit hole, it’s hard to remember what life was like on the surface. So walk with me for a minute…
If you’ve been dealing with the mental stuff for any length of time you’ve probably been given some advice about how to take care of yourself and “get better.” And I’d like to reassure you that it really can get better – but it takes effort. Taking care of yourself while living with a mental health diagnosis is quite possibly the hardest job you never wanted and won’t get paid for. The hours are often long, keeping track of appointments and pills requires a lot of skull sweat, there are sometimes terrible side effects from the meds that are supposed to help you, and sometimes the people you were counting on to love and support you will up and leave with no notice.
But I’ll say it again – it can get better.
Part of building a life worth living is being brutally honest with yourself about what you want your “ideal life” to look like. Make yourself some lists – what is the utter minimum I will accept from this existence? What do I absolutely dream of doing with my life? And then, the kicker – how do I make these things happen?
Some of the best advice my parents ever gave me was that if I was going to dream, I should dream BIG. Dreaming big doesn’t cost any more than dreaming small, and you might just get there if you focus on the BIG picture.
I’ve been doing a little navel-gazing over the last few weeks about what parts of my life fit with the “life worth living” philosophy. Honestly, there are some bits that make me quite happy – like doing so well at a job I love that I’ve started thinking of it as a career (which is kind of silly, it’s been a career since I started this position 6 years ago but it scared the hell out of me to think of it like that), and working on a second graduate degree. But there are other bits that are not making me happy, and I’m getting to the place where I need to make decisions about how to address those and what life might look like on the other side.
We all have the inalienable right to happiness, we really do. I encourage you to start thinking about what makes you happy and how you can make that a bigger part of your daily life.