I had a little revelation this morning, connecting two concepts together-- the idea that maybe severe mental illness and severe physical illness have more commonalities than I thought.
I can do this because I feel like I'm finally healing to a point in which I can interact with the world in a somewhat (still far from) normal fashion. I can read at least some books. I can watch some shows and movies. I can go outside and talk to people, to a limited extent. I can eat and sleep and work somewhat reliably. None of these things were true two years ago or even six months ago for some of them-- I could not read a book, it was much harder to watch a show or movie, going outside was much scarier, sleep was hell.
This blog catalogues a key struggle in this-- I was constantly searching for meaning. If I'm in pain constantly, if I'm growing more and more isolated, if I can't even do the things people say bring meaning-- what am I doing? And the analogy of being in a hospital bed for years barely able to function, despite not being the same, brings words to an answer. A lot of people might leave your side and life might be really hard to bear but I needed time to heal, and just have to find little things I can do and keep relentlessly, painfully searching for healing solutions because one day I will be able to get up and rejoin the world a little more and that'll naturally help me find this answer.
I gravitated toward the logical because the emotional was such a wreck, and maybe this has some value, but it didn't help much. "Shoulds" seem to rarely help. I "should" feel fulfilled doing this-- nice string of logic, but the emotions provide the axioms and those axioms aren't holding up. What did help was finding the tiniest sparks of joy and following those-- for instance, lighting a candle. Maybe it's such a small spark of joy I can't even see it, but I had to keep looking for it. Cooking something I like, solving a puzzle, doing a breathing exercise, looking out the window-- anything I could connect to to bring little sparks of something resembling relief. I learned (and it seems psychology agrees, see "accumulating positive experiences" in DBT) that builds resilience to stress and, strangely enough, a natural source of meaning.
I still can't do a lot of what "normal" people (is that even a thing?) can do. I can't watch so many movies or shows because I get triggered very easily, I can't read most books because focus is still a problem. Going outside and being around people still stresses me out a lot. I can't hold a regular full time schedule of hours. I still deal with nightmares that can paralyze me for days and hurl me backwards, still deal with panic attacks that make me wonder how much progress I've really made. But most of the time, I don't compare myself to others because I'm just so thankful to have gotten to this point after several painful years, and also because I feel I've thoroughly mourned that already.
With recent good business news, some people have asked how I've managed to co-launch such a successful company despite this. Well, I've talked about that at length over the years. But it certainly wasn't some "passion" or anything-- heck, I wish it was passion. It was just sheer survival, mixed with some luck, mixed with some business skills learned through ways I could study (like talking to people), mixed with the fact that honestly you don't really need to work a lot in some lines of business to make a lot of money. It was the way that made the most sense to survive.
Just some thoughts.