While I was home for Thanksgiving my parents, who are faithful followers of my blog, asked why I have not posted recently. I gave the standard, easy answer “I’ve just been really busy and stressed out”. While true (I learned at an early age that lying to mom and dad can only end badly…very badly), after some self-reflection this afternoon I realized there was more to it.
An awesome blogger over at Purple Dreamer helped me uncover the other part of this equation. I was reading through the “rules” of a blog nomination she gave me (more on that later) when I came across a series of questions I was suppose to answer. The first question is “Why do you blog?” That’s spelled out pretty clearly on the purpose of my blog, “providing hope, insight, and awareness for life with mental illness”. But that is the mission of many amazing bloggers and writers already, so why do I think I have something to add? For me, I try to address a specific audience by to bringing life and emotion to the more tangible facts, knowledge, and coping techniques by being vulnerable and open about my life and struggles…..
And the “AH HA” moment. No, not the new facts or knowledge, I’ve actually listening to a lot of podcasts recently. The problem is the vulnerability. See I haven’t really been doing all that well recently. I am not the worse I’ve ever been, if I was I would have been forced to stop and deal with it. Since I’m only kinda bad, I’ve decided it was just easier to ignore the darkness that was going on inside.
I’m ashamed to admit I am a Hunger Games addict. How can you not have a crush on a small crush on a gorgeous buff blue-eyed baker? But I digress, during the rebellion one character says, “It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart.” This is what I’ve been doing recently—I don’t feel like I have time to fall apart, I am completely overwhelmed with work and my job. So instead of putting forth the effort needed to address what’s going on, I’ve done just enough to hold myself together.
Let’s pretend Sidney brings me home a vase filled with flowers. As I’m arranging it on the table it slips from my hand (believable right?) and a small crack appears. I have three options: a) ignore it, b) slap some tape on it, or c) examine the break, find the right glue to fix it, hold it to the glue dries. Then rearrange the flowers back in the vase. Since I’m running around like crazy right now—I’d likely put the tape on it (especially if I could find some pink duct tape laying around!).
I know you think you know where I’m going with this—if you ignore something too long it will eventually break….true. But I want to focus on another side of it.
Duct tape and visible cracks are not pretty to look at, and don’t allow the vase to function at its full potential. Water is likely leaking down and dripping through the cracks. So while I’ve been cruising along in my life, throwing duck tape on the anxious or depressed thoughts, I’ve impaired my ability to reach my potential. I’m not happy right now. I’m just existing. I make a “to-do” list at the beginning of the day, work on accomplishing it, go to bed, wash rinse repeat. And since I never stop to be open, to be vulnerable, and introspective, I have not identified and dealt with the garbage of thoughts going on in my head, impeding my life.
I justify it by saying Oh I’m too busy to do my thought journals, I’m too busy to meditate, I’m too busy to identify cognitive errors. And I’m certainly too busy to deal with anything I might find during the process. When it should really be, I’m too busy NOT to identify what’s going on in my head. I’m too busy NOT to be using my brain at its full potential.
I think everyone’s brain collects garbage and false thoughts throughout the day/week/etc. but I think those of us with a mental illness collect more of them, in a faster period of time, and store them more deeply. While many people can drop these thoughts during coffee with a friend, a hard work out, a phone chat—those of us with mental illness require a bit more work to stop the party going on. Our brains have lots of confusing dark crevices, wrong turns, and trap doors for the thoughts to hide behind. So if I’m going to be successfully living with a mental illness, I’m going to need to remember to clean out the junk drawer that is my brain. I need to commit to writing my blog, journaling, going to therapy, talking to my support team—even when that means I might drop an hour of work, miss out on a social event, order pizza two nights in one week…
I must remember that I deserve to be healthy and happy—not just existing. And being mindful of my thoughts and emotions is a huge part of that.