Seeing the magic when you live with mental illness
Updated: Feb 27, 2022
Ever feel like you’ve leaned a little too far into your own suffering? I’m feeling it right now.
Last weekend I was ‘feeling good’ after a week or two of low mood and general overwhelm. I asked my wife, “Is it just me, or are our kids extra gorgeous this weekend?” To which she answered, “They’re always like this, it’s just that you can feel joy again”.
Lately I’ve been somewhat enslaved by my anxiety and chronic health conditions. I run my family, work, and social life around making sure I’ll ‘be able to cope’.
And in all the planning and worrying, I’m missing the magic. The subtle signs it’s all something more than random.
I’ve also leaned right on into the modern-day phenomenon of busyness. For me it’s not for moral virtue’s sake - there’s just a lot I want to do, and I can’t wait to do any of it. I get up at 4:30 so I can write before my kids wake up. I brainstorm in the shower and send myself emails in the middle of the night.
At the same time as I’m spinning my wheels, someone I know passed away this week, and it has rained almost non-stop ever since. I’d like to think the very universe is crying at the loss of one so loved by so many.
My in-law’s beloved 21-year-old dog is not long for this world. She’s got days or weeks, who knows? And next week I finally get to wrap my loving arms around the puppy I’ve waited two years for. The connection is a cliché, but poetic, nonetheless.
It’s my 41st birthday today. And when the celebration is over and the champagne runs out, I’m going to enter my 42nd year with an altered perspective. It’s all so much bigger than me and my anxiety.
I can acknowledge that I’m suffering and yet hold immense privilege. I can grieve the things I’ve lost, and have gratitude for what I have. I can have an anxiety disorder, but I am not my anxiety disorder. I’m going to look up a little more.