Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.Charles R. Swindoll
Picture the scene. Your mind is racing, palms sweaty, heart beating ferociously out of your chest. No matter what you do or try in an attempt to stem the tide of thoughts pulsating around your head, you cannot for the life of you grind them to a steady halt. Whether you pick up a book, zoom call a friend, try a bit of meditation or head outside for a walk to distract yourself, seconds still feel like minutes. Minutes feel like hours. Every task seems like a mountain to conquer. Why me, you ask? What did I ever do to deserve this? When will it ever end? How can I make it stop? Will my life always be a never-ending cycle of complete and utter misery and despair? Why does nobody understand how I feel, why does nobody get me? Now as melodramatic as that could appear, this is often just a very small snippet of what living with a mental illness can be like! And I mean it when I say very small…
However many times you try convincing yourself that ‘you’re being silly’ or the mind is simply ‘playing tricks on you’, it’s amazing just how much our brains can bring us back down to earth. Rob us of positivity. Strip back our bare bones so we feel more isolated, depressed and worthless than ever before. Make us genuinely believe that we’re somehow ‘unfixable’ or unworthy of support just because we think certain things and act different ways to the ‘ordinary, normal’ person. Whatever normal means nowadays. When in reality, the hurtful, degrading words we often repeat to ourselves and maintain in our belief systems are usually a million, trillion miles away from the truth. Rationality is flung out the window. The problem for us, however, is that a mental illness thrives in keeping us down. Drowning us. In making us feel powerless, worthless, depleted. It’s exactly where it wants us to be. However easy it feels to lie in bed and stew on our negative thoughts- and I know the feeling well- it’ll never give us much benefit. Certainly not in the long-term anyway. The antidote to this cycle is doing stuff we don’t want to or feel necessarily capable of doing in that moment. Though it may be unbelievably hard to spring ourselves out of bed to write that essay, speak to a friend we haven’t really contacted in ages, or even jump in a shower to wash, keeping the mind busy is often the best solution we can arrive at. After all, if we provide our minds something to focus on among the chaos (even for a short while), sometimes we can the limit the intensity of our thoughts and feel a whole lot better.
Amidst a world where we hear the constant rhetoric of coronavirus, social distancing, quarantine and many other now too familiar terms, it can be incredibly simple to lose hope, feel like all the days blur into one and that this whole fiasco is pretty much never going to end. That life will never return to how we like or as it was once was. Though it must be stated that the UK and other nations around the world have yo-yoed in and out of lockdowns and implemented more rules than you’d care to shake a stick at for basically a year now, it’s important that we do not forget that many countries have battled this crisis extremely resolutely and come out the other side. Human kindness and spirit has been magnified. People have come together and realised what’s important in their lives through this dire adversity.
Yes the circumstances haven’t been ideal, yes countless people have undoubtedly suffered mentally, and yes far too many people have lost their lives due to this virus, however the other side of the story is that people have learn plenty about themselves. For example, how to live more independently, interacting with others in new and inventive ways, as well as what really matters in life. Without the pandemic testing us to our limits (and it certainly has me), could it be the case that we’d be STILL letting our lives pass us by without any real gratitude or appreciation for what we are able to do every day? Now, and only now, do many people recognise how much they enjoy going out to restaurants, meeting up with their friends travelling abroad to go on holidays etc. And that’s because we are no longer allowed to do these things. Shit situations put things into perspective- even if they are painful!
What we see depends mainly on what we look for.John Lubbock
For anybody out there struggling or having a particularly difficult time, I want you to know that you can do this. This process has been long and draining and frustrating, but the end is nearing ever closer. As we approach a time where places begin to reopen and life returns to some form of normality, just remember how much you’ve battled on and how good that feeling will be when you are able to do things you once took for granted!
Thanks for reading,