Mental Illness and Emotional Intelligence

The fog has finally lifted and the world is full of harsh stories and bad news. When what I need most is positivity in my life, it seems that I have to be the change that I seek in order to find it.

Let me explain. The oddest thing happened to me the other day, I felt “normal”. This sounds strange to say, and for a bit it felt strange to feel. It was one of those things that seemed odd because I was around other people. Usually I’m kinda stuck in my own head when around others and it takes a considerable effort for me to be fully present. The other day was different, and before I knew it my old regular and supportive self was back.

Unfortunately I can’t say for sure what triggered this moment in time, but I’m almost willing to bet that it had to do with the needs of others. My emotional intelligence was shouting at me that someone was in need, and my mind, body and soul kicked into overdrive. I was no longer the co-pilot of my life as I feel most days. This is a scary thing for me now, before I used to just jump without looking because someone was in need. Now I cannot leap without thinking, I have to consider whether my support is aligned with my healing. Take the time to check in with all systems and make sure I’m in a place that can offer true support, and not just simple platitudes.

Fortunately this was an area where I could support, and do what needed to be done to help someone in need. Sometimes this is listening, sometimes this is words, and sometimes it is actions. For me it was all three, same ol’ Meg just doing what she used to do before she “got sick”. Strangely it was the fright in others that brought about a calm within me, and my thoughts came from a pure place, not one of knee jerk reaction.

This space gave me pause. Why didn’t I just jump into knee jerk reaction like I used to? How come I was so calm when the situation had cause for more turbulent emotion? Why didn’t I react? This left me feeling confused, yet hopeful that maybe I have grown. Then I remember that when someone is in need my instant reaction is usually to fix it, which makes me laugh and remember maybe I haven’t grown as much as I thought.

This time reminded me that everyone is going through something, and sometimes you need to be the positive influence in the lives of others despite what you’re going through. I’ve been stuck in my own head for quite sometime, which is what is so frustrating about mental illness. More times than I can count part of wanting to just “be better” is to have the strength to lift others up when they need it.

This surreal day continued into the evening when a friend needed to vent about a really bad day at work. I was able to be present, to listen and offer support instead of wishing I could crawl back into bed, or wondering what I was feeling about the situation instead of actually listening. After our chat I felt like a new stone had been turned over, I was finally getting back to being me. Maybe all this therapy and the new meds were actually working, maybe I could have my old life back.

Then I woke up the next day and reality struck, there is no getting the “old life” back. That’s not who I am anymore. Once I finally roused myself out of sleep it hit me like a tonne of bricks, I was back to the bottom. It took everything I had to get out of bed, moving was a burden, my head was in a fog. Apparently I had given everything the day before without realizing it, and now I was paying the price. I was too tired to be frustrated with the situation, to emotional to put myself back in the old self zone. Instead of feeling like a supportive friend who wanted to check in, I bawled all day long. Get a glass of water, bawl at the bit spilled on the counter. Climb back into bed… bawl. Feed the dog… bawl.

Fortunately this deep pit was limited to only a day, this time, but the day after wasn’t a world of difference, just less intense. This is why I can admit that the old life isn’t who I am anymore. That woman always bounced back for the needs of others, the woman I am now can’t. That emotional pool takes a lot longer to fill these days, and it seems to drain a lot faster than it used to. Running on fumes is no longer an option that I used to rely on for a lot of years.

This is the reality that I have to live with now. They say you can reinvent yourself anytime you chose to, but I feel like I have to reinvent myself every day. It isn’t until I wake up that day that I’ll know which person I’m maybe going to be. I live a single serving life, one day at a time and it’s frustrating as hell! Good days leave me expectant that tomorrow will be just as awesome and waking up disappointed. Bad days make me want for sleep and nothingness, praying tomorrow will be a better day.

Despite this single serving life, I try to remind myself that the world is all about ebb and flow. That water doesn’t move mountains, it finds a way around. That I have to be flexible now, accepting the good with the bad. This is a struggle for me, as I’m sure it is for most people. But it also reminds me the good that came of that normal day. Even though I was the positivity I need in my life, I can now recognize the positive that people are trying to be despite all the negative. I can give more credit where credit is due.

For the lessons life teaches me each day I breathe, I am grateful. Wishing you the positivity you need dear reader, chin up… tomorrow is another day. ~ Meaghan ~

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