Living most of my life with malady, I've slowly learned that I can be a depressed person with a personality disorder and still avoid misery. This has taken years. This has also been an exceptionally grueling process because serotonin is a hell of a drug. Life is indefinite. We do not know how long we will be unhealthy or healthy. We do not know when we will die. It is a given that suffering is a guarantee of existing, but no one says it has to be the center of anyone's world. I realized this roughly eighty days ago after a horrendous relapse that made me reconsider not only my life as a person with a diagnosed illness but one with capital P Personhood.
Personhood: the status of being as a person. These are three particularly strong ways in which I am gradually learning to cultivate my suffering and use the full potential of my indefinite existence:
- Not letting anyone tell me that I have to suffer because of my illness
That's my job. Don't feel like showering today? Just want to cry? I went through a period of time where I gave my all into listening to sob stories and directions about what Bipolar was like and allowed the pain of this to wash over me with no fight. When I stopped reading up on the internet and texting my psychiatrist like clockwork, I remembered a whole person who could fully experience the intimacy of pain and learn to work with it instead of against it.
- I left the house (sometimes)
Listen - you and I both know it. I hate leaving the house. You hate leaving the house. This has nothing to do with integrating with the public, but more to do with the fact that the world cannot be yours if you don't see it. Even you who happens to reside in a small town. There is great power to giving in to the discomfort of glances and menial interactions. Again, this is not necessarily integration, but being alive already makes you a cog in the machine and you might as well see what's out there. The more interactions I have with others, the more I know about who I truly want to let into my life and who I truly want to stay out of it.
- I turned relapse into a chance for a fresh start
This is probably the trickiest bullet point because of the fact that a "fresh start" in adulthood is neither realistic nor convenient. When I moved forward and accepted cleaning up the messes of my relapse as a new beginning, it eliminated a great deal of excruciating guilt and resentment toward myself.
There is no exact formula for living your best life when the chemicals in your brain act as an obstacle. I do know this, though: every person deserves a chance to be happy and every second that they live has potential.