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I Can Never Seem to Balance My Life and My Mental Health

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It often feels like living with a mental illness is like placing yourself on a balance scale: on one side is your mental health and on the other side is the rest of your life.

It seems like the mental health side always weighs more. The mental health side always seems to need more consideration than the other side. I’ve tried rebalancing the scale, bring the life side to the same level as the mental health side. I’ve tried to focus on my work, my friends, my family and my hobbies more, but it seems like every time I do so, I lose focus on my mental health. Once that happens, a drastic decline begins to happen. My depression makes an appearance and I notice myself staying in bed more often and feeling exhausted all the time. My anxiety resurfaces, too, and my mind is constantly rambling with doubts and worries that consume me. When this happens, I know it’s a sign that the scale has malfunctioned. It’s a reminder that I need to put my life on pause and focus on my mental health again.

It’s been years and this cycle still consumes my life. I’ve tried to break it with no success. Mental health always weighs more, no matter how hard I try to balance both. It’s exhausting and frustrating to have to constantly put my mental health first. If I look away for a second, if I get distracted for just a moment, my mind gets lost and wanders into the depths of unsafety, the same way a puppy escapes from your reach when it sees a squirrel. My friends wonder why I start to get distant. It’s hard to tell them, “Sorry, my mind comes first.” It’s hard for them to understand why I can’t balance both. It’s hard for me to explain that my mind works differently than theirs. My family begins to notice a change in my behavior. They try to get me out of bed but they don’t understand, my body’s too tired. My mind is too tired. My grades start to plummet. Of course, my professors don’t utter a word. They probably think I’m too consumed in college life to focus on my education. They don’t know that I’m trying my best to stay on top of my work.

It’s not easy to live on this scale. It’s not easy to explain this scale. I don’t even understand it myself. I hope that one day, I will find a way to live and not just survive, to enjoy my life and the beautiful things that surround me without the fear of losing myself to a complicated mind.

Getty image via Dmitrii_Guzhanin

Originally published: August 27, 2019
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