There was a time in my life – a good chunk of my adult life actually – where the only real direction I could look was back. I had convinced myself that I had very little time left, so there was no point in making long term plans for myself. Why invest any time or money in myself when I’d be dead in just a few years? And then I made an important – but seemingly stupid – realization.
I don’t KNOW that I’m going to crash and burn that bad, why the fuck shouldn’t I make some plans and do some things and enjoy this life while I have it?
And so I started.
I’m not going to blow smoke up your ass and tell you that anything is really easy when you’re living with mental illness. We hide it from some people because we don’t want to be treated different. We tell other people because we’re hoping they’ll support us. There are doctor visits to work in, pills to remember to take and get refilled regularly, side effects to watch out for, and subtle changes in behavior that might signal the coming of a serious problem.
It is exhausting, sometimes degrading and humiliating, utterly frustrating, and at the same time it can be one of the most rewarding things you ever do for yourself.
One of the hardest things for me has always been TAKING time for myself. No, not “making” but “taking” – there’s a difference. I can make time for damn near anything, provided the request to do so is external. I have a huge issue with taking time for myself. It seems selfish. If I have time that it’s already spoken for, I feel like I should be doing things around the house or getting ahead on homework or, ugh, getting ahead on things at work during my own time.
This isn’t coming from anyone else – I need to make that crystal clear. Josh has never said anything to me about our living areas not being clean enough for him. (Mom will occasionally have to prompt about something that needs attention upstairs, but that’s rare and always legit.) Assignments at school tend to have firm dates, so any push to work ahead comes from me – not the prof. And my boss has never even hinted that I take work home or come in on the weekends to do things – never. So this is well and truly all ME.
I seem to have lost the ability to relax somewhere along the way. Not that I was ever really great at it, but I used to have no issues with sitting on the sofa in front of the tv all evening knitting. But see, even then, I was doing something. It kind of feels like once I got diagnosed and my meds got straightened out, I got to a place where I felt as though I was already doing all this “other stuff” to take care of myself so it just felt wrong in my head to take any time to do anything additional for myself.
Let me say this right now, that is BULLSHIT.
And now that I’m getting to the place in my life where I can recognize it as such, I have every intention of doing something about it.
There are a few minor chores left to be addressed and two errands to run later. I got my school stuff done yesterday morning while I was doing laundry, of which there is one load left. And then……then I will knit. For me.