Living with mental illness or mood disorder day after day can be taxing and tiring. You have to be more disciplined, stronger, more organized and more on top of things than anyone else you know. You are bombarded with advice about dealing with a chronic illness: exercise helps, diet is important, be sure to get enough sleep, but not too much!!!
Some days it just seems like there’s too much to take care of and not enough time to just forget it all. You wonder how you can keep going and you look for a miracle cure online. Some days it’s important not to count your blessings, but rather to count your strengths and achievements.
People who get out of bed each day in spite of deep depression are strong. People who go and do their work in the world in spite of severe anxiety are courageous. People who face healing after a manic episode and face up to repairing any damage they may have done to finances, relationships and job security are highly skilled and highly organized to get through all they have to overcome.
Take some time right now to inventory your own stock of strength and courage. Probably you have a lot more than you may have thought. Look back at difficulties you have already overcome and inventory the gains you have from those events. This is not to say that there is some cosmic ladder that is training you to climb it for some reason. It’s just to observe that it’s a reality that you have already become stronger than you were in the past, and you now know how to turn your trials into new strengths and skills.
When somebody trying to be helpful in your hard place tells you “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” it may not make you feel better. “I’m already strong enough!” you can fairly say. However, the fact is that you are overcoming a lot of bad stuff and you are getting stronger, whether it makes you feel better or not.
So take courage! Practice going into scary situations and feel the burn that means your courage muscles are building up. Think of “courage training” as something you are working on all the time, in hard times and in easy times. Courage is a useful skill, it’s not something that some heroic folks are just born with, it’s something that we can all work on and build up over the course of our lives. And for sure, there will be hard spots ahead where you will be using all the courage you’re building up right now. With practice you will be better prepared when sh** happens, as it does.