I am not a particularly grateful person. Most days I can be found wallowing in the upset and stress that my life seems to contain in great quantities. I am not a negative person although I will claim to be a pessimistic person under most circumstances. And it isn’t as if I can’t see all the things in my life that I should be grateful for; it is just oftentimes the normal and oftentimes sticky details of my life prevent me from seeing all that surrounds me.
My therapist and I were talking today about this current state of mind that I can’t seem to shake. For the last two months I just haven’t been able to find that drive inside of me that I rely on so much. It isn’t that I am down or depressed in a darkness that is hard to get out of, I simply have nothing inside of me requiring better of me. I can’t find the energy to celebrate. I don’t have the energy to write and examine my feelings on this important website. I just don’t seem to care about the daily rituals that I once embraced.
I have hope that the fact that I am finally acknowledging this feeling of drudgery, I will and can move past it. This time last year I had already spring cleaned my whole place. Today, I didn’t do the dishes. In the past I have created and kept to schedules so that I would feel useful and important in my own life, these days I can’t seem to remember why it is that I should be important in any case. Most of us, those of us with mental illness, know that there are days like this. Days when the mania is calm and the depression while certainly a specter in the midst isn’t really the problem nor the solution that is needed.
Days like this, days of gray and mindlessness, can be dangerous in the long term. My therapist knows this as well as I do. Days like this, without passion, can cripple the tasks that are required in order to sustain a normal, productive life. Too many days without something to move towards creates bed sores on your dreams and flatness from too many days sitting – and it is swimsuit season.
While my therapist and I were talking shades of grey, we started talking about others in my life. It is a natural progression from those shades to those that might have an effect on them. It is natural to look not only at the life that you are leading but the people in that life that might be having an effect on you. As I am currently hiding in plain sight, I would say that everything and everyone in my life is causing this hiatus from my own norm.
I have a great many people in my life. Family, friends, husband, kids. I have doctors, I have dentists, I have bankers. I have professionals and I have others who simply have something inside of them that calls to my own needs. I have family that I can’t get rid of and kids that try so hard to be everything that I need them to be. I have support from my husband and sheer unadulterated misunderstanding from pretty much the rest of my core circle. I have those that want to help and those that can’t see they are the problem. In this I am as typical as the healthiest and robust individual out there. There is comfort in knowing that in one aspect of my life I can define myself as normal.
So my therapist and I were talking about these people and the stress that seems to plaque me like other people’s motivations do for them. We were talking about the fact that there is that horrible adage about ‘walking in someone else’s shoes’ and how the truth is that no one actually could walk in another’s shoes. Despite the fact that I have an almost obsessive need to understand what motivates people and what causes them to believe that which they would die for, the truth is I can’t ever really know.
I have no idea why my aunt is so selfish that all you want to do is roll your eyes. I don’t know what brought that on, how it came to be, and where exactly I am going to get crushed by it. I have no idea why my father literally can’t see the harm he inflicts and why he thinks constructive criticism should be the same as putting down someone you love. I can’t walk in the shoes of my mother and truly understand why she shut down every other emotion most humans experience in order to find her own way to survive. I can’t know because I am not them. I can’t know because no matter their answer it will always be surrounded by a truth that only they know. So if I can’t understand those closest to me, and it is pretty much understood I can’t understand the world at large, what exactly am I supposed to do?
Today my doctor explained to me that my trials and tribulations with this horrific mental illness has allowed me to find the necessary desire to understand and see beyond people’s instinctive reactions. Because of the cruelty that comes with having a mental illness and my honest desire not to beat the disease as much as not allow the disease to control me, I have developed an ability to see beyond the hurt, the emotional reactions to insignificant details. In other words, I look and try to find the motivations for people.
I don’t believe that everyone, everywhere is bad. I have seen too much good. I don’t believe that most people are selfish, I have seen too many times when that same selfishness turned to compassion without one missing a beat. I don’t believe that we as a people are anything but flawed persons trying desperately to make it to the finish line without breaking apart. We are all trying to simply live in the best way we know how because that is all we know.
But I can’t continue living a life without anything but grayness and hiding. I have to get up and get somewhere. I have to go around the people that exist in my orbit and find my own way to survive. I have to continue to find ways to forgive people, understand people, and therefore, except not only who they are but who I am as in response. If I am going to change the world, I have to allow others to be themselves, and still smile as I walk away. I have to find something that will motivate me to be something more than the nothing I have been for so many months.
My therapist suggested a gratitude journal. A journal where I write down three things a day that I am grateful for. Strangers, family, events, ice cream; any and all of these things are allowed in my gratitude journal. Because the goal isn’t to forgive anyone, but to show my own life what it has despite the lack of forgiveness. The goal isn’t to understand that some people have bad things in their life, the goal is to give me enough of a push to get off the flat bottom we spoke of earlier.
Will I do it? I don’t know. Will it work? No way to know that either. Should I try it? Probably. But for now, I am going back to my couch and try not to think of all the negative but instead remember all the grey of nothingness.