Having a mental illness is exhausting, you are either dwelling on the past or anxiously looking to the future. One thing I find myself often thinking about is who – or where – I’ll be when I’m older. It’s one thing that plays on the minds of young people, usually with excitement, but a problem I face when suffering with depression and anxiety is that I feel I don’t have anything to look forward to, that there is nothing exciting on the path laid out for me.
Acceptance was the first step for me. It’s not easy being diagnosed with a mental illness because right there and then you’re being handed your life sentence, you may improve over time, but more often than not a mental illness will stay with you forever. Sometimes it may only quietly exist, and that is my goal as I grow older – to own it, conquer it, and not let it own me. A mental illness is terminal, it is a long, slow, and drawn out death, one that nobody else can see, only you can feel it.
It is devastating that so many people are consumed by their pain that they have no choice but to leave us too soon – growing old is a privilege for those living with a mental illness. If you are like me, congratulations for making it this far, don’t let your demons beat you yet.
I’m fearful when I think about getting older and planning my future, only because I feel like my condition might get in the way of me achieving most of my goals, or I may become more depressed when life doesn’t go the way I’d hoped. But do you know what? This is such a common fear shared by so many people, and so what if my life doesn’t follow the script I wrote? It’s only the first draft. Sometimes you can be lead down a path you never expected to be on, and life will throw you a curve ball that’ll send you in another different direction, but maybe a better one. We will experience negativity and setbacks in order to appreciate success and happiness. It’s all part of our great individual journey, and as I anxiously await what the future holds for me, I am just grateful to be living.