My God, man, that's not a molehill, that's a mountain!
I'm actually pretty sure it's Mount Everest
I wouldn't say that I am grateful for my mental illness. I think we've established already that I am pretty annoyed by the whole thing. Although I would cautiously say that I am in recovery from it, it flares up now and then to remind me that it is not something to be forgotten or trifled with, and that it can screw me over whenever it feels like it.
But, just like when the army sends Chris away for any length of time and the girls and I appreciate the chance to have cereal for supper and cake for breakfast while we can, my illness has taught me many lessons for which I am grateful.
Wait, maybe its only Mount Kilimanjaro
Maybe 'grateful' isn't the right word for how I feel about this realization, but at least I realize it. I cannot process that other people, when they say they are bummed or depressed momentarily, don't feel what I felt last year. And I panic, because I don't want anyone to feel like I did last year. So when Chris is having a bad day or something has got him down, I teeter on the edge thinking about him being on the edge. He assures me he is just having a bad day, but I run after him like a crazy person (haha - get it?) trying to make him feel better. And I realize from all of this that I, too, have lost the ability to see problems rationally. I have to repeatedly tell myself that the issue isn't as big as I think it is, and I have to try to remember to listen to Chris instead of to the anxiety when he tells me the same thing. I have learned that things aren't always as bad as they once were, or as I perceive them to be, but I really have to work at believing it.
For Better or For Worse, and For Worse Than Worse
Another gift, if you will, that my illness has given me is that it has shown me that my man meant his vows when he said for better or for worse, and let me tell you, it hasn't gotten much worse for us than it did last year. He held me, he told me things were going to be okay, and when I needed it, he got my ass to a doctor and came in with me to make sure all that needed to be said was said. He stuck by my through all of it, and now he knows that, even though I have setbacks, I will be okay. He trusts me and is proud of me after all of this, and that means the world. I only hope I can be as good to him as he's been to me.
Family Is Everything
No, really. It is. I've always kind of known this anyway, but the support I've received from my family over the last year has just reinforced this idea. My illness has also taught me that the most important thing to me is that my family and I are all healthy and are together. After that, everything else, although maybe not easy, is doable.
Thank You For Being A Friend
As you might imagine, this past year has also shown me who my real friends are. In some cases, I've been pleasantly surprised and in other, disappointed. But no matter. I will move forward with those who have stuck by me, even if sticking by me has meant giving me my space as I've needed it, but still checking in every so often with words of love and encouragement and the offers to get together when I am ready. I haven't felt pressured but have still felt supported, and its been exactly what I need.
You Can Teach An Old Dog New Tricks, Even If She Doesn't Like Them
And by old dog, of course, I mean me. And by tricks, I mean limits. And by doesn't like them, I mean I don't like having to reconfigure my life because of my illness. But, I have. I've had to learn new limits and new ways of dealing with things. While I might not be grateful to have had to change, I am glad that I am still able to change, and that my life carries on if not exactly as before, than pretty closely. I need less caffeine and more sleep and I don't feel bad about taking ativan anymore when I need it. I am also starting to recognize the situations where I might need it, and am starting to recognize when exhaustion and hormones are playing a part in my anxiety. I am glad that I can notice these things now, and adjust my internal dialogue accordingly. I've learned that it's okay to use terms like 'internal dialogue'. As well, I have come to the conclusion that it is okay to decide a certain therapist is not for you - especially if you don't appreciate having your condition and symptoms twisted around to support their particular agenda - and to not go back to them. It is okay if the drugs are something that helps you. It is okay to not blame not being in touch with your vagina and on male doctors' need to medicate and numb women (I WISH I were joking about this) for your anxiety. It is okay to not even care why it has happened, as long as you find ways to deal with it.
I'll Be Okay
This is probably the most important lesson that I've learnt - I will be okay. A year ago, I never would have thought that or believed it, and yet, here I am. Not every day is perfect, but it isn't for anyone ever. But I have people around me who have been and will be helping me through, and more importantly, I trust myself now to not believe all of the hype that my anxiety tries to sell me. Some of it is still awfully tempting to believe, but for the most part these days, I am able to call BS on it.
And? I've decided to be grateful - or even more so - for good chocolate, and to eat it whenever I want. It makes me happy, and we all need all the happy we can get.