I had planned a different post for today. I’ve even got most of it written out already.
Except, when the inspiration for this post instead popped into my mind, I wasn’t about to scoff at the sudden flow of words I felt coming. I’ve mentioned on Twitter a couple times that I’ve been struggling with some good ol’ writer’s block, so this feels like I’m nearly out of the woods.
After I got sick, and after my first severe depressive episode, I put school ‘on hold.’ I’d decided that I’ll focus first on getting better, and then I’d get back to school and work. If you’ve been following my blog, you might know that that didn’t turn out quite the way that I had hoped.
Over the course of my recovery, I’ve gone back and forth in these periods of working or school alternating with this intense focus on ‘getting better.’ And I always seem to head back too soon. So, after my last working period culminated in me heading to the hospital because I was in fear of taking my life, I figured that maybe this time, my focus on ‘getting better’ would have to take longer and move slower. That way, maybe it would stick.
And now, for nearly a year, I’ve been off work and been working on me instead. And damn is it slow-going.
I feel like I’m constantly adding to my ‘mentally-well’ bucket list but never crossing anything off. I’ll travel. I’ll date again. I’ll take a course. I’ll have a career. I’ll get active. I’ll volunteer. I’ll advocate.
But not ‘until.’
Not until I’m better. Not until I’m skinnier. Not until I can follow through 100%. Not until I’m recovered.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve imposed some of these restrictions on myself. I’m warming to the idea that maybe not everything has to be perfect, and in turn, I’ve been trying to do some modified versions of the things that I’ve been missing out on. But not all of the restrictions are self-imposed.
I just don’t have that much energy. I can’t handle lots of stress, and I can’t handle being in public that much. So, I’m restricted. And it’s heart-breaking.
Some activities or goals will just have to wait until I’m recovered.
Except, I’m coming to terms with the fact that I may never get to a point of full recovery. This might be something I always struggle with, but with varying degrees of severity. I might just get to a point of stability instead — where I have learned enough to be able to cope well.
And as I come around to that, now my whole measuring system is changing. So now, I just don’t know how long to wait. How will I know when my ‘until’ turns into ‘now?’
I touched on this idea when I wrote about dating last week. I’ve spent so much time waiting until I’m ready that I’ve lost sight of what ‘ready’ will even look like.
Even worse, I’m terrified of what will happen if I get it wrong again and throw myself in before I’m actually ready. Part of me doesn’t think that I can survive another major, life-halting breakdown. Well, actually, most of me doesn’t believe that I’ll survive.
I’m not old. I’m actually pretty young; I’m only 22. But even with my birthday just over six months away, the idea of another year going by is terrifying. This is not where I thought that I would be at 22 and a half.
I should’ve had my degree. I planned to be in teacher’s college. I’d expected to have a partner, to be living my ‘grown-up’ life. Instead, I only have nearly two years of university and a scattered work history. Instead, I live at home, with my dad, and with no adulting and no partner in sight.
Do you ever get an idea that just sticks in your head? As an example, take the idea that you’ll have mac and cheese for dinner. You think about it all afternoon, but when you get home, you realize that you don’t have enough cheese and the store is closed. So, now what? Spaghetti? Nothing else is going to satiate the craving you had in just the right way.
And that’s how my life has been feeling. Like a consolation prize. Like the ‘next best thing’ to what I actually wanted.
I didn’t want spaghetti. I wanted mac and cheese, but I’m stuck with spaghetti anyway.
For years, I imagined what it would like to be to be an adult; it was this magical, far-away age when I could do what I want and no one could stop me. But now my brain’s betrayed me. I’m four years into adulthood, and limited by my own mind — who knows when (if ever) I’ll get out from underneath it. I’ve had to leave all those dreams behind — at least for now.
It’s been four years, and most days, it feels like nothing’s changed. Like I’m still that scared, alone, and incapable 18-year-old and like I’ll always be her.