Last week, when I crashed back down again, not only was I dealing with an episode of incredibly dysphoric depression, but on top of that I was really upset because I had been doing so well for about two weeks. I felt so stable. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that way in my entire adult life. I didn’t even know that was possible or that’s what I’d been missing. I didn’t know that feeling existed let alone that I could experience it. I had a glimpse of stability heaven and it was suddenly taken away.
I was so incredibly disappointed not only in my treatment but in myself. I couldn’t stop thinking, “What had I done that triggered this? What did *I* do wrong? Obviously, I was being punished and if I could *just get it right* all of the pain would stop,” or maybe if I was doing something different, something right, if I was living my “right life”. In my head it was, “if I lived closer to my friends… if I wasn’t with Andy… if I lived in a place I liked… if I had a job that I liked… if I could go on a solo trip… if Abby wasn’t getting old,” maybe I could lead the life I have always wanted. After all, I wanted friends, travel, adventure, animals, laughter, sangria, stories, writing, culture, food, dancing, long walks, confidence, strength, resilience, self-trust, love, independence, peace…
I explained all of this my dear friend J because she suffers from a couple of autoimmune diseases and we often talk about coping with a chronic and invisible illness, but one sentence she said really stuck with me:
"You're losing the person you thought you were, the person you've been your whole life. I kind of think that's worth grieving over."
It is. It truly is.
It’s so hard to let go of the person I thought I was and that I wanted to be. I’m not saying that I’ll never have those things in my life, but I don’t have the control over getting them that I thought I did. I am not the person I thought I was, or thought I would be. It could be true that I will have an even better life than I could possibly imagine. I’d like to think that maybe one day all of this will teach me how to savor the good moments. Maybe this illness will teach me, will give my life greater depth than I would have had otherwise. Or maybe it won’t. I don’t know.
Joseph Campbell says, “You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.” It’s different than resignation and healthier than resistance. I can’t begin to know where to start to build a new me and a new life, but I’m guessing it’s by grieving over the loss of my old life and old expectations.