Why I'll Never Be Cured
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Health and Wellness

Why I'll Never Be Cured

A reflection on recovering from mental illness.

Why I'll Never Be Cured

I am having an anxiety attack.

By now, it’s mostly passed, but in those moments of crushing uncertainty, it feels practically impossible to breathe, let alone think rationally about what happened externally or internally to make me feel this way.

I am having a depressive episode.

By now, it’s mostly dissolved, but in that stretch of overwhelming vacancy, it’s impossible to fill my days with anything meaningful to help cheer me up, out of this clinical slump.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about my mental illnesses. I was diagnosed with ADD and an anxiety disorder when I was fourteen, and I went through my first major depressive episode when I was nineteen. I have put hours upon hours of time into spiraling thoughts, self-destructive thoughts, and lying in bed for hours at a time, as I made constellations out of plaster ceiling tiles because I didn’t have the energy to do anything else.

But I’ve also put hours upon hours of time into not doing all of that. I have spent at least eight cumulative hours meditating on just one of my guided meditation apps, or so it tells me. I have filled dozens of pages of journals and penned dozens more of poems. I have colored, talked through panic attacks with friends, and taken hundreds of pills.

While, over the past year or so, I’ve gotten better at coping with the chemical imbalances in my brain and the weird things they make me think, feel, and do, I’m not "cured."

I’m not "healed."

I haven’t "gotten better."

That’s not because I haven’t made progress in dealing with my mental illnesses, because I have. It’s because the narrative of "being cured"

or "getting better"

is one that can be damaging to those who live with mental illness. It’s similar to living with a chronic physical disease such as fibromyalgia or juvenile diabetes. The disease never truly goes away. You never heal from it. There are good days, and then there are worse days, and then there are the worst days.

It’s the same with mental illness. You never really "get better"

from depression or anxiety. There are days when you don’t get out of bed, and there are days when you do. On those days when you do get out of bed, there are times when you are glad you did so, and times when you are not. There are days when you can make phone calls, and days when you can’t. On those days when you can make phone calls, even then, there are times when your heart beats so fast that it threatens to jump out of your chest. Or maybe there aren’t.

If you suffer from a mental illness, remember that first and foremost you are not alone. If you are able to ask for help, and even if you do not feel able to ask for help, I encourage you to reach out to a trusted loved one and, if you are able, a mental health professional.

If you are not personally affected by a mental illness, but someone you care about is, please remember that this person may not ever feel entirely whole, even with the best of luck. If you are in a position to support them more overtly, please remember that they are probably frustrated with their illness, and that they may not entirely understand it. You are not there to fix or cure them, but to love and care for them.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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