Maybe I’ll Never Get Well
Mental illness isn’t keen to give me a choice
Free from illness.
Optimal state of being.
Skipping through fields.
Or maybe not.
Tripping in the field. Falling down a well. A not-well well. Oops. Humpty Dumpty can’t be put back together again.
We’re all used to the cycle of getting sick briefly and then getting well. We get sick with a cold or whatever infection happens to be most convenient. We stay home from school. We watch The Price Is Right. It’s actually a bit sad when we get well because it means we have to go back to school, which means we don’t get to see if Bob Barker gives someone a car. But we have to go back to school, and so we do, and carry on as if sick never happened and well isn’t even something worth giving a second thought to.
That kind of sick is easy to wrap your head around. Chronic illness is a whole different can of tuna, though. It doesn’t let go. It snuggles up against you. Suffocates you at times. Acts sort of like a second skin with claws. Or like a parasite, sucking up all the well.
My own chronic illness (not) choose your own adventure is depression. It used to trick me into thinking that it would come and go. Sure, I knew it would probably come back at some point, but in the meantime I was skipping through the fields.
Then things changed. Everything changed — forever? No more happy. No more fields. No more skipping. Tumbling down the not-well well and breaking into a lot of different pieces.
I tried to hang onto the idea that well still existed, that I would find it at some nebulous point in the future. I was used to the presence of well, so holding out hope for it seemed like the reasonable thing to do.
Then a shift started to happen inside of me, gradually at first but then gaining momentum. I realized that well was a false hope, and false hope does a whole lot of nothing to help me. It was hard to let go of the idea of well, both because of my own history of wellness and all of the messages society sends that if you just work hard enough and buy enough exorbitantly priced jade eggs to stick up your vagina, then you too can be well.
That’s not me, though. Yes, I have this illness called depression. Yes, it’s chronic. Yes, it will stay with me forever. So maybe I need to set the bar lower, and aim for better-ish. It doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as nicely as well, but maybe it’s a little closer to my reality.
Better-ish. Now there’s something I can start to work with. And maybe it’s not setting the bar lower after all; maybe it’s me taking charge. Taking control. Not allowing the lack of well-ness to win.
Better-ish. I can do that.