Dear, guys – welcome back to Letters From Liz!
First and foremost, Happy May, Happy Taurus Season, Happy Almost-Gemini-Season, and Happy Almost-Unofficial-Start-Of-Summer Memorial Day! Also, Happy Birthday to all the May babies out in the world.
A little life update on me: I’ve been in a place that I’m very proud to be in. I’ve been feeling a lot more happy, active, present, and my anxiety hasn’t been flaring up as much as it had in the past. To be quite honest, it’s been a couple of months since I had a bad anxiety attack. I’m very happy to see myself in the place I’m in right now because compared to this time last year, I was a complete and utter mess (and that’s not an exaggeration).
So, although I’ve been doing good and I’ve been feeling a lot more stable and happier, I’ve been aware of this “stage” in the process where you feel like you’re doing better than ever and that your mental health isn’t affecting you the way it usually does; I guess you call it the “loving” process of life. A fellow writer of mine shared this image on their Facebook account and thus the inspiration for this week’s SAS letter.
This post, in its simplest form, reminds me a lot of me and my sibling, who has been treating their mental health far longer than I started to. There have been times where I felt the way I currently do: on top of the world, confident, motivated, inspired, and happy yet feeling like the anxious, depressed person I’m used to feeling is more like home than the former. In other words, sometimes I feel like my anxiety especially defined me, and that I function and live my life the way I do is because of my anxiety. You start to believe that your depression and your sadness is all that you’re allowed to be, and things opposite of that feel temporary, or phony to you.
Just because at this moment in time you are in a very good place, it does not mean chronic mental illnesses like depression or anxiety are completely gone. You’re allowed to be a happy person that balances out depressive episodes and anxiety attacks every now and then.
Just because you’re in a better place in life, it doesn’t mean that you’ve been “cured” of your mental disorders. Personally, I had to accept this because, in the past, I found myself being ashamed of having bad days (or weeks) because then that meant I “wasn’t getting better” or that I was “getting bad again.” Happiness and being in a better place isn’t a permanent state of mind; you will have bad days, you will have depressive episodes, and you might get some anxiety attacks along the way. You shouldn’t feel ashamed of those moments; they are human reactions to life. Being aware of these moments is honestly how you learn to not see your moods and emotions so black and white. Yes, in this very moment I’m writing this, I’m in a really good place – but that doesn’t mean that a week later, I’ll be in this state of mind still? I could be having a bad day; it’s natural.
I believe the true test of “getting better” is honestly knowing the balances of who you are and that at times, it comes with anxiety and depression. No, your anxiety and depression do not define you, no matter how difficult they may make your life; those are the things that you have, not are. What makes you “you” are the things that make you smile in life, the music that makes you dance, the passions that you never gave up on despise battling your mental health.
Happiness is a great thing to experience, but happiness, like sadness, is not a permanent state of emotion. You have to allow yourself to have bad days, and you shouldn’t feel like just because you’re getting “bad” again, your process of becoming better was all for nothing. Also, we need to remind ourselves that just because we become more aware of our mental health disorders and issues, it doesn’t mean that we’re nothing without them. Our mental health is always going to be a part of us, and it’s up to us to make ourselves more than just our illnesses. Mental health dependency is very different from mental health awareness; sometimes we get so caught up in being aware of our behaviors and emotions that sometimes, our mental health is all we know about ourselves.
You were an amazing person before the diagnosis, and you’re still an amazing person going through the therapy, medication, and “healing” process.
You are more than your diagnosis. I am more than mine as well.