For most of my life, I’ve known depression for almost as long as I’ve known myself. There was a “me” before mental illness and there is still a me even with mental illness, but my mental illness is not the all-encompassing way I know myself.
Just as there is a you in spite of all the things that weigh you down and there is a you even after as you navigate ways you can find relief and rest despite the things you carry.
I’ve been very treatment/therapy oriented for awhile, it’s become a part of my routine and it’s definitely an opportunity I’ve been afforded the privilege to attend to.
Except, nowadays things are shifting. I’m not spending so much of my days grappling with the anxiety, the fear, the depression, the panic attacks. I’m a lot healthier and able to engage in things and people other than myself. It’s life-giving, but it’s also scary because this is uncharted territory for me.
I know it’s uncharted territory for a lot of people too. When the only thing you’ve known for awhile is your mental health or trauma, it’s hard to picture what is beyond this line of focus, but if we just expand our vision for a little bit I know most of us can probably agree that there is a life beyond this. There is a life that can extend past the traumas and crucibles we carry. This life is possible, but only if you allow it to be and work to make it happen.
Even beyond the context of mental illness, if your whole life you’ve been career oriented and suddenly your career is stagnant or maybe you’ve lost your job during COVID-19 you are forced to reconcile with yourself and expand on other areas of your life. Whether that means self-growth, relationships, advancing your education, taking a hiatus, whatever you choose-
when left with everything you have not been attentive towards you are forced to make a choice on what to tend to.
And that’s where I am right now. I’m trying to figure out what to tend to. My mental health isn’t this chaotic crisis anymore and it’s refreshing.
I’m able to tend to my relationships more fully and thoughtfully. I am able to make big moves at advancing my professional career or finally figure out how to relax and have an uneventful day and be okay with it because I’m not filling my time with tasks to avoid feeling dread. I don’t feel dread anymore, so I’m filling my days with meaningful things and people. I’m able to give after being the recipient of a lot of care, attention, and support. I’m finally able to offer things more authentically and thoughtfully in my relationships.
I’m feeling a lot more like myself and it’s because I’m finally investing in more areas of my life than just my health. This is not to say I’ve stopped caring about my health, but taking care of myself has become habitual and built-in to my routine and it’s just become a silent norm.
We are whole-beings with ecosystems of insight, experiences, and desires inside of us.
To only live in service to one part of yourself is to deny yourself the privilege to live holistically and whole-heartedly.
What do you feel drawn to tend to? What have you been neglecting? When was the last time you noticed where your body is holding tension? When was the last time you shared a good laugh with someone you love? How are you going to be more of yourself today?
I hope you are staying well during this awful pandemic, finding ways to indulge yourself, connecting with people that bring you joy, and lastly-I hope you are finding more ways to be yourself in a world that is constantly asking you to encompass different roles because the greatest role you can be is yourself.
And if you’re yourself the whole way through, even at the forefront of change I believe the essence of who you are will guide you to where you need to be. We are full beings meant to live full lives–so let’s do exactly that.