I’ve written before about my feelings about choice with mental illness. When I hear statements about how we should “choose joy” or “choose happiness”, I get angry and jealous. Angry because I think the person saying that has never had or is in denial about mental illness. When you’re so depressed you can’t get out of bed let alone be active and productive saying it’s a choice just loads on the guilt. I’m jealous of people who CAN make that choice. I dream of being able to make that choice.
I want to stress those of us with mental illness TRY to be well. Mental illness colors are world dulling the color, muting us with a heavy cloud that sits over us, burying us in misery. No one chooses this. No one wants this. We want more out of our lives as much as those that love us. But just as those with paralysis can’t choose to walk, those of us with mental illness can’t will ourselves to be bubbly and sociable.
We can’t choose joy, but we can choose to keep trying. We can’t choose happiness, but we can choose perseverance. But I want you to understand what a challenge it is to keep going. What you see as a simple decision to take medications means enduring severe side effects. I sleep 10-12 hours a day. I have tardive dyskinesia and gastroparesis. Some medications leave me unable to drive while on them. And they aren’t magical. I still hear voices. I still get depressed. I still have racing thoughts and addictive personality traits. But I refuse to quit. I refuse to let this illness destroy me no matter how hard it tries. This is the choice I make.
If I have a single goal with this post, it is to please don’t judge. You can’t tell when someone is doing their best with the cards they’ve been given. You don’t know what is or is not within their ability. We are overwhelmed and struggling to do the bare minimum to survive. We don’t need to feel bad for not living up to your expectations.