When I was a kid, I lived in a neighborhood that had this incredible hill that my siblings and I had appropriately named “Wee Hill” for it’s ability to make us say WEEEEE! as we went over it.
It was a double hill, and on the second bump, it would always make your stomach drop, like you were on a roller coaster. The first time we went over it, it was startling but it quickly became an important part of each trip home.
My mom, being the speed devil she is, would always speed up and hit that hill with everything she had. It was so much fun, and one time I’m pretty sure we got a little airbourne.
But, sometimes that hill wasn’t fun. Like, for example, when you had a stomach ache, weren’t feeling well or ate too much at lunch, that hill was the last thing you wanted. We’d slow down to a snails pace to avoid any stomach dropping, and it became an added struggle in the already tough day.
Every day that hill was part of our routine, and each day we just expected it. We knew exactly what would happen when we went over that hill. The hill itself didn’t change, but our ability to handle it did. One day it was an exciting ride, but the next it was a nuisance.
Life with mental illness is kind of like that.
Every day you get up to do the same tasks, with the same job and the same responsibilities. Some days you fly through them with a smile on your face and enough motivation to inspire an army. Then, other days it seems like just getting out of bed is the first of the many hard things you’ll do all day. You trudge through, feeling overwhelmed, stressed out and incapable of handling a simple email.
The tasks don’t change, the responsibilities don’t change, but your ability to handle those tasks do. In the moment, that knowledge doesn’t really help you handle it better, but knowing it for the future could make a difference.
If you know that on bad days, you can’t really handle the hill, you can either slowly go down it, or maybe take a detour for the day. It doesn’t mean that you are any less capable of handling that hill, it’s just today it’s not as easy as usual.
I fall victim to this mindset so often, assuming that because it is hard today that I am just spiraling into oblivion. Down a rabbit hole of anxiety driven doubt about what I’m truly made of. But, one bad day does not mean you have a bad life, and it definitely does not mean that you can’t handle those same struggles on another day.
One bad day is just that, one bad day. It is not a lifestyle, it is not a permanent part of your life. It is simply passing by, and on the days you can’t handle your struggles, it’s not because you are weak. It is because you are tired from treading water every single day to keep yourself afloat.
And trust me, as a swimmer, you can only tread water for so long before you have to grab the wall and rest. Especially when you go from doing breaststroke kicks to butterfly kicks with your arms straight above your head.
But I digress.
Some days, you’ll be the coach on the sideline, observing the mental illness from afar; other days you’ll actually be int he water, feeling it getting difficult; and sometimes you’ll be the person holding on the lane line, floating on your back to catch your breath.
In all those moments, you are just as strong. Never lose sight of that, no matter how bad it seems things might be going. There is always light at the end of the tunnel, a lane line to grab or an alternate route down a hill.
It’s just a bump in the road. It does not define who you choose to become. Stay strong, stay brave and stay you.
Until next time, Internet.
If you would like to email me, you can send any questions, concerns, comments or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will do my best to respond to you within 48 hours, but if for some reason I cannot get back to you in that time frame, I promise I will always respond as soon as possible. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram!
Lastly, I run an Emetophobia Support Group on Facebook. Emetophobia is the intense and irrational fear of throwing up, and it is one struggle I am passionately engaged in. The group is a closed, by request only group to help facilitate sharing and support by all members. It is also private, meaning that the posts you and others make will not show up publicly in your newsfeed.