We’re going to talk about something that many people without mental health issues may think is crazy. Hell, you may have mental health issues and think I’m crazy for talking about this, but I think it’s an important topic. Some of us hold ourselves back from healing because we’ll miss our mental illness, and that’s something that I had to grapple with recently.
What It’s Like in My Crazy Head
Years ago, when I got sober, I was diagnosed with a Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) as well as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). Aside from that, I’ve always had emotional regulation issues. On a scale from 1–10, many people feel emotions at about a 5 whether they’re good or bad unless something life-changing happens. For those of us who have emotional regulation issues, we’re at a 10 when we feel emotions.
Although I don’t have borderline personality disorder, this is something many people with BPD can relate to. I’ve found that many addicts can relate to this as well. The way I describe it is that people like us don’t just feel…So, rather than being happy, we’re ecstatic. Instead of just getting angry, we get pissed. We don’t just start liking someone either. We fall in love with them.
With all of these different things going on in our head, it creates a slew of problems that makes life unmanageable. My anxiety makes my mind race a million miles a minute, and my emotions are all over the place. When I’m not feeling intense emotions, I can feel extremely numb. When most people think of depression, they think about the negative thoughts and lack of emotions. My primary symptom is always anhedonia. I just don’t feel anything.
Turning My Mental Health Into a Super Power
One of the most empowering things I ever did was accept my mental health issues. I finally accepted that this is how my mind works, and maybe I can put it to good use. Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t treat my mental health. It’s more like training a superpower. When it’s not under control, it can cause havoc, but when it’s under control, we can make some awesome stuff happen.
My addictive mind combined with anxiety latches onto ideas and doesn’t let go of them. Uncontrolled, this can be hell and lead to rumination. It doesn’t do that anymore because I’ve learned to use it as a way to pursue goals and accomplish things that can improve my life or the life of others. When it comes to my emotional regulation issues, I turn it into a passion that also goes towards my work and helping others.
I used to get angry and just stay in the problem. Today, when I get upset or have other intense emotions, I look at them as a call to action. I ask myself, “What’s my mind and spirit wanting me to do right now?”. Sometimes it’s spreading a message of hope, decreasing the stigma or educating people about mental health and other topics I’m passionate about.
Don’t Fix Me
I had an insane conversation with my therapist the other day because the anhedonia had lasted for days. Everything was just calm, and this is something that most people hope and pray for. In my case, I’m sitting there telling her how this is awful, and I even felt ungrateful. How could I miss my mental health issues when there are millions of people around the world who would give their big toe to just have their minds quiet down?
I laughed at myself as I talked to her because it sounded crazy coming out of my mouth, but I was afraid. When I feel numb, it makes me feel complacent. If I don’t have my intense emotions, it feels like I just won’t do anything, and then I start future tripping and think I’m just going to become this zombie for the rest of my life. Usually, I wake up each day motivated to make a positive impact on the world, but when my mind isn’t racing and my emotions aren’t all over the place, I fear that I’m never going to do anything worthwhile ever again.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, these are just the lies that my brain tells me, and maybe your brain does the same thing. Luckily, my therapist is able to help me examine these thoughts and recognize how silly they are.
If you don’t have a therapist, don’t worry. This is the first year I’ve actually had a therapist. If you don’t have one or can’t afford one, I suggest having someone in your life who you can talk to or even just get a $1 journal so you can physically see your irrational beliefs. Once we get these whacky thoughts out of our head, we can examine them more closely. I also highly recommend reading books by Albert Ellis on Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) to help you start recognizing your irrational thoughts. Some of my favorite books are How to Stubbornly Refuse to Make Yourself Miserable and How to Keep People from Pushing Your Buttons.
As I went through this experience, I thought about how many people are out there who don’t seek help because they like their mental illness. In some cases, it becomes part of our identity. I remember in my active addiction, one of the ways I rationalized not getting sober was because if I wasn’t the alcoholic / addict, then who would I be?
It’s important that we look at our own lives and ask ourselves if we’re self-sabotaging or holding ourselves back from getting help because we don’t want to get better. When I look at this aspect, I see how selfish it is of us to not want to get better because we latch onto our mental illness.
What do I mean by this?
We’re not the only ones affected by our mental health. The people in our lives who love us the most are affected as well. Our parents, our spouses, our friends and our children. When we choose not to get help, we start to tell these people in our lives that they just need to deal with it and learn how to accept our symptoms. In my opinion, this is one of the most selfish things we can do.
First off, we need to get help in whatever way we can. It’s not fair to anyone in our lives, and it’s not fair to ourselves if we’re not actively trying to get better on a daily basis. I know we sometimes are afraid of how getting better might change us for the worst. I remember thinking getting sober was going to turn me into a wuss, but that wasn’t the case. I remember thinking my mental health medications were going to turn me into someone I didn’t like, but that didn’t happen.
Our mental health is something that we should work on improving each day and future trip about what may or may not happen when we improve ourselves. For me, I realized I was just having a weird few days, and it went away. My mind is back to racing on a daily basis, and my emotions are all over the place again. I even got pretty anxious the other day.
When I started getting upset at my mind, I paused and giggled to myself. This was the exact same thing I missed the other day. Once I got back into that place of acceptance, I started to find some equanimity once again. We often find that when we get mindful and simply accept what’s happening in the present moment, we start to get clarity and find happiness.
We spend far too much time fighting against where we’re at in the present moment. Today, let’s work on accepting it.
If you’re looking for affordable therapy from the comfort of your own home, I personally use BetterHelp online therapy. I have a badass therapist, and I highly recommend this easy-to-use service. By clicking here to sign up, it helps support the work I do as well.
Originally published at https://www.therewiredsoul.com on November 2, 2019.