I know it’s been a long-ass time since I’ve posted anything here and really that’s not altogether a bad thing because it means I’ve been doing so well I don’t have anything illness-related to break down and discuss. But I do have something I want to talk about now, and it’s going to be long, so I’m going to break it into two separate posts. Here’s the first:
Somewhere in the middle of the worst three years of my life, back in college, I found myself thinking this: “I wish I could have one day where my disease is such a non-issue that I actually forget I have it. Just one day when even though I’m not free, and will never be, I feel free.” At that time, I wasn’t sure I’d ever get there. Well things are pretty different now, that’s for sure. I’ve been in remission for well over a year. But I’m not relaying the story of my wish because I’ve been granted it; I never really got there. The fact is, my disorder isn’t forgettable, not really. Even in my last remission, where I had days during which I felt wonderfully, deliciously normal, I couldn’t forget; maybe for parts of a day, but never a whole day. There were reminders everywhere. The same is true today. I go to therapy regularly. I go to see my psychiatrist regularly. I attend a DBT skills-building group weekly. I take my meds each morning and night. My disease is never not-present, but the magical thing about where I am now is this: I don’t care. I don’t care that I likely won’t ever have that day. Because it doesn’t matter to me anymore. I don’t need to ever have that day to be at peace.
I am at peace now. Genuinely. Blissfully. When I had my year-and-a-half-long remission a few years ago I reached a level of happiness I never thought I could ever reach. But that time was all about self-discovery and just relishing and lounging in every single happy moment. It felt amazing and I will cherish it always, but looking back now, there was, I have to admit, a certain flatness to it. It is to this day the happiest I have ever felt, but that was it. It was the happiest I’ve ever felt. Now, in this new remission, I feel similarly happy, but I also feel the strongest I’ve ever felt, the most successful I’ve ever felt, the proudest I’ve ever felt. Honestly, the list goes on.
How did I get here? It was a combination of things, including therapy and medication, but if I absolutely had to boil it down: hard fucking work. That’s where the proudest comes into play. It is really hard to stay alive when you are suicidal. I did that. It is really hard to keep trying different medications at different dosages when you’ve already tried 10 that didn’t work. I did that. It’s hard to whole-heartedly commit to therapy knowing that it’s going to be very painful as much as helpful. I did that. It’s hard to go into several more depressive episodes and make it through them. I did that. It’s hard to admit to yourself that you, yourself, have made your suffering worse and you have held yourself back just as much as your illness has. I did that. It’s hard to keep taking medication that’s helping because it’s also hurting with negative side effects. I did that. It’s hard to keep at all this work every single day in the exhausting pursuit of wellness. I did that. And once you’ve done all of that work and reached wellness, as I have, it’s hard to take all of the pain you’ve ever had, that you’ve never let go of through it all, and let it go.
Because that, for me, is the biggest success I have ever achieved. And I know it probably happened slowly and most of the time I wasn’t even fully aware of it, but recently I had one big moment (my Amazing Profound Experience, which I have shortened to “APE”) that brought it all home for me and made me feel, for the first time in my life, that against all odds, I may just be all right—for good.
PART TWO COMING SOON