Why I Must Stay Well

Reading Time: 7 mins

Finding Meaning in Recovery

Another week is drawing to a close, and it’s been a bit of a tough one. The come-down from the heady successes of last week has begun in earnest, and my mood has swung between numb and restless.

As I said in last Sunday’s post (which you can read here), my mind tends to counter success or happiness with self-loathing and despair. In truth – and on paper – this week hasn’t been terrible.

My manager was happy with what I’d done in her absence and has invited me to step-up again in the future; my team continues to see me as someone worthy of respect, and I accomplished my goal of re-reading The Hobbit.

All of this has done nothing to set my mind at ease. I’ve been agitated and anxious, unable to take my mind off the overwhelming feeling of doom. On more than one occasion, I’ve reached panic-point at my desk, frantically going over my to-do list, convinced I should be doing more and that I’ve forgotten something.

My therapist asked me what these frantic, fearful feelings would say if they had words. I gave him two words: “Something’s Coming…”

There are many things that I’m afraid of – I’m scared of clowns, for instance, or finding out that I’m some kind of lying fraud, and my triumphs have been nothing but luck (Imposter Syndrome is an odd thing, but 100% real).

Most of all, though, I’m scared of getting sick again. I’m terrified of being plunged into the hole of acute Psychosis and – this time – not being able to claw my way out.

Something’s Coming…

I’ve not had a significant breakdown in over two years, and I have gained more awareness of the things that set me off and how to combat them, but that fear is always there no matter how well I feel.

Getting sick is always the first thing on my mind when I get this doom-feeling, as it was one of the signs that I was slipping. I’m better at coping with it now, but I know there is always a risk that I can fall down the hole again.

Throughout this week, I’ve found myself repeating a mantra that has seldom worked but brought me comfort all the same: I must stay well.

The Importance of Staying Well

I cannot go back to that awful place in my head or let the ugly side of my brain take control and turn everything I love into something to fear. I have come too far, done too much work, and seen too many glimpses of happiness to let the nightmare creep up and steal me away again. I’ve got to take steps to prevent it.

This post is one of those steps – a list of reasons to stay well. It might sound a bit wishy-washy and a bit like a gratitude list (which I hate doing), but I thrive when I find meaning in things. If I feel like I have no purpose, then despair follows, and that’s another path to illness.

Finding my meaning, my purpose, my identity – it feels like finding my core. Listing the reasons I have to stay well helps me to see the good in my life. It reminds me that this feeling of fear and desperation will pass and that it’s worth being here on this planet with enough presence of mind to engage with it.

It sounds cliché, but it reminds me that life can be beautiful. So, on that note, here is my list:

My Husband

I’m not the only owner of my life. There are people around me that would also suffer if I fell into the hole. Chiefly, my husband. For one reason or another, he loves me. I may not always be able to see why, but I can see that he does.

My illness has hurt him so much. It’s brought him stress and pain and despair. I know this isn’t my fault, but I still feel guilty and ashamed. I made a vow to be always what he needed me to be. He needs me to stay well.

It’s my responsibility to make sure I do. I cannot hurt him like that again.

Family and Friends

There would be others hurt by my pain too – friends who laugh with me, family that hugs me. Illness would take me away from them, in one form or another.

I have a couple of friends who, I’m honoured to say, seem to depend on me for my advice and perspective. There are other friends who don’t just tolerate me but actively want me around. Never before in my life has this been the case.

Staying well means I can be around to share in the joy of the people that matter to me.

My Job

A career has never been the most important thing to me, but my job is still a big part of my life. It’s where I can actively live out my values. If I do it right, it’s a place I can explore my passions and strengths and grow as a person.

My job is just getting good! I feel needed and appreciated in it. It’s opening doors to places I may want to go in the future. Ultimately, it’s also providing me with enough money to build a comfortable life for myself and my husband.

It’s not the most important thing, but it’s helping me to find my identity, and steer myself to become the person I want to be.

My Civic Responsibility

I know it factors into all the items above, but responsibility is a crucial thing for me as it goes hand-in-hand with purpose. I feel empowered knowing there is a point and a purpose to what I’m doing. Feeling responsible is how I know I have a purpose, and having a purpose means I feel responsible for carrying it out.

Close to home, I have a responsibility to my friends and family to try to enrich their lives. In a wider sense, I have a responsibility to be a productive member of society and try to bring about some good in the world.

I’m getting to a point where I can start trying to help other people with my words, actions, and experiences. I’m no guru and have no answer as to how others should live their lives, but in talking about my experiences, I hope that others won’t feel so alienated in theirs.

Helping others is a passion – but I can’t do that if I’m sick.

I Don’t Deserve More Pain

I have a hard time feeling like I’m worth something, and like I deserve something decent out of my life, but it’s beginning to happen. I’m starting to accept the good things that come my way. I feel less guilty about being happy.

It’s not always easy, but I’ve seen glimpses of unfettered goodness during my recovery, and I want more of it. I want to be able to enjoy my happiness, rather than feel guilty for it.

I won’t say I deserve to be happy – that still feels wrong to me – but I will say I don’t deserve to be in the hole again.

No one deserves that.

So Where Does That Leave Me?

Ultimately, I owe it to the good people in my life to stay well. I have to be responsible for myself and make sure I can be a source of goodness and enrichment for those who love me.

To be clear, none of the above reasons mean I should ignore signs of illness and soldier on for fear of being a burden. It means recognising the signs and then acting on them is crucial.

It means taking care of my needs, being open in therapy, making sure I sleep properly, taking my medication, and letting people know in advance if I’m feeling off.

It’s simple to say, but hard to do. It means continually working on myself and fixing the things that need fixing.

It’s not easy, but it’s easier when I know I have meaning. It’s easier when I can see this list of things I should stay well for.

Until the next post!

Bronwyn @ LBT x

What did you think of this list? What are your reasons for recovering or staying well? Leave us a comment below, or head to the contact page and drop me a line!