Nine months post diagnosis, today marks a year that I have been off work. I went through some really traumatic shit the year before I left, and finally one day my complete being gave in and I couldn’t function anymore. My doctor intervened and my world crumbled around me.
Early on in my leave, there were warnings from the professionals that healing would take time. It isn’t until now when I recognize how far I have to go, despite how far I’ve come, that I fully grasp those warnings. Resilency was my thing, and I could bounce back from anything. Until I couldn’t.
Granted I’m not suffering crippling nightmares anymore, and I don’t break down into tears over the smallest thing. Gone are the days where letting my mind wander while completing some menial task would send me into a panic attack. But my mental health is still terribly fragile. Being out in my community will invariably mean seeing someone or something that transports me back to those traumatic memories. A pounding heart, sweaty palms and tunnel vision still plague me if I drive down certain streets.
Each day I still have to confront the negatives that pop into my head. At least now I have the strength to analyze what is going on with myself and what is a reasonable reaction without first breaking down into someone unrecognizable. This has been a transformative year for me. Overall there have been people, support, and moments that have transpired which I am incredibly grateful for..
Would I love to undo the traumas of my past? Of course, who wouldn’t? However in a strange way I am grateful for them when I reflect back over my life, and these past few years. Had I not endured these times I wouldn’t know myself as well as I do today. My mental illness means life will always hold some unpredictability, but I’m learning how to handle that in positive ways now.
This time has been one of the most challenging, wherein I’ve had to test all knowledge and assumptions of myself. Learning to have real and healthy boundaries, upholding those boundaries I set and also confronting the values I had in past. Values which aren’t as healthy as I once imagined. Learning that each day as I discover more about myself than the day before, I’m starting to understand who I am and what I need more and more.
Transparently I’m cautious that my fate rests delicately in the hands of others right now. This causes me untold grief when I give it the power to overtake my thoughts, but I’m working on a new normal. A life that I feel in control of, instead of someone else. Reevaluating the ideas I used to have for what being happy meant, what respect is, and just how much power I hold over my day to day.
With Christmas not to far away, I look into 2020 to see what could be in store for me. Christmas is a particularly hard time of year for me, which it has been for many years. The weather sucks, there’s barely any daylight, people are stressed out and there is the never ending pressue to be glowing with holiday spirit. No Christmas reminds me of loved ones and lifetimes lost. Surpise! Amazon doesn’t have everything on my wishlist this year.
While I look ahead into 2020 I try to imagine what could be, what I might now be capable of that I wasn’t this time last year. The list may not be long, but it is still reassuring for me to try and envision something better than what I’ve been through. I can look into the future with some hope and that’s enough for right now.
One year later and I would love to “be better”, but instead I try to focus on just how far I’ve come. Trying not to let other’s expectations, real or perceived, interfere with what is actually my reality. Soon enough we’ll close the book on 2019 and as we do I am grateful for all the lessons that came this year.
Small steps, deep breaths and a hope for a better future await.