Read This If You Need a Reminder of Life’s Beauty in the Midst of Mental Illness
“There is no such thing in anyone’s life as an unimportant day.” – Alexander Woollcott
There are days that are dark, full of uncertainty and plagued with questions. There are days we wish we could go back to a happier age — a time we remember feeling “better.” There are days we stare at the sky, wondering if God cares about us (or if there is a God, to begin with). There are those days it feels like our disorders and our dysfunctions are getting the best of us…
This life often perplexes me and twists my stomach into knots far more than I care to admit… Each day truly does have enough trouble of its own, yet each day also has so much potential to become a better version of ourselves. Some days, I feel like I’m just existing… as if getting through the day is a victory in itself. Yet, there have also been days where I thrived, even in the midst of great anxiety and depression. On one hand, I can see that as inconsistency in my happiness. On the other hand, what if I’m beginning to see a weakness in the armor of my brokenness? Is it possible my dysfunction doesn’t have the power to determine my destiny? Can my day mean much more than just surviving the pain?
In 2006, I was diagnosed with a severe case of an anxiety disorder called obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). I began going to therapy thanks to my parents helping me find someone who specialized in working with people in my particular “brand” of mental disorders. Medication became a part of my life, as well as a level of insecurity. What if other people were healthier than me? What if they would live more complete and satisfying lives than I ever could live? What if…?
Fast-forward to 2019 and I sit here writing as a man who has learned so, so much about myself and about healing that I never would have imagined back in 2006. Meeting with my therapist on a consistent basis and taking medication at various stages in my journey have each played a pivotal part in finding healing. Making new friends who care about me and investing my time into what brings me life has also brought me a much healthier perspective on life. The man I am today is far different from the man I was in 2006 (thankfully). Healing is real. I know. I’ve been there.
I’ve written a few things down below that I believe can serve as a few simple reminders of life’s beauty. These aren’t “cures” or ways to make your days slap-happy, but they are reminders of life’s value, even in the face of pain:
1. You are more than your feelings.
Some of my darkest, loneliest days will stick in my memory forever. Some scars remain. Yet, even in those painful moments, there would appear constant reminders of life’s beauty. My feelings were raging against me, but there was more taking place within and without that exceeded my feelings. It may have been as simple as a song, offering someone help, a smile from a stranger or getting lost in a good book. Even in the simple things of life, we are reminded that we are much more than our highs and our lows.
2. Our brokenness does not own the right to determine our future.
If you struggle with a disorder, you know how easy it is to simply stick with the “safe” choices. We become so afraid of losing what we know that we often miss the better things waiting in the next moment. We are invited to create the future. Sounds like bubblegum talk, but it’s much more than that. Even in the midst of your pain, you are making choices that are creating who you become next. You choose how to respond to the circumstances of life, not your brokenness. It’s not the disorder you face that determines your tomorrow, but it’s the choices you make, despite the disorder.
3. This too shall pass.
The first time those words resonated with me was when they came from a friend who led a group for people recovering from addiction in Los Angeles. He invited me to visit the group one night, so I did. There were recovering drug addicts, alcoholics and porn addicts encouraging one another towards healing. Me? I was the dude with OCD and depression. That didn’t matter to these guys. They welcomed me into the conversation with open arms. In the middle of that room, I began to see something incredible beneath the surface: healing. These men were finding freedom from addiction. Dark days were passing.
Your life is not a waste.
You are not damaged beyond repair.
Today is not lost.
Follow this journey on Andrew’s site.
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash