The thrill of achieving the impossible
I'd be lying if I said my mental illness doesn't restrict me. My OCD and Generalised Anxiety Disorder (as per the current diagnosis) have a large impact on my day to day life and have done ever since I can remember. They affect my mood, decisions, enjoyment, routine, appearance, friendships and relationships. The simplest things are always complicated. I obsess over the tiny worries in life and often take big things in my stride. I take my medication each day and if I forget it, my brain goes into turmoil. For me and millions of others around the world with similar conditions, life is often fought against an invisible barrier, holding us back at every step we attempt to take.
For World Mental Health Day, I wanted to write not about my illness to educate or inform, but rather to share a recent phenomenon I have discovered in my life. The thrill of achieving the impossible.
You see, my brain doesn't want me to go out and enjoy myself. It doesn't want me to have a job or friends or any independence whatsoever. It wants me to sit at home under a rug and sleep all day, neglecting myself and feeding the illness it has created for me.
I used to feel upset about it. I'd question why I was so unlucky, and why I had to be held back whilst other people with healthy brains seemingly conquered the world. In time, I discovered that the first part was untrue — just look how many successful pop singers have discussed their mental health issues, for example.
Through meditation and an increased positive outlook, I also discovered that life is what you make of it and nothing is a disadvantage unless you decide it is.
Instead of focussing on the fear of completing certain tasks, I began to focus on the thrill of achieving things that scared the living daylights out of me. I began thinking of it all as a challenge, almost in a sporting sense, to do everything my illness told me I probably shouldn't do.
It's through this attitude that i've managed to hold down a job and start performing my music live. Next up, i'm going to re-visit driving. I get scared of my ability to concentrate on the road, and the theory test uses a part of my brain that doesn't work so well. But i'm going to do it, because it's all part of my even bigger goal that also scares me sh**less — to live on my own as an independent adult.
I love achieving, through sheer will power, determination and plenty of anxiety, the things that people have doubts over. I love proving everyone wrong.
Sure, mental illness is a barrier, but it makes it even more satisfying when you manage to break it down. This post is dedicated to my friends and fellow sufferers who are making a success of themselves and defying all expectations. And to anyone who thinks a mental illness means a life confined to settling for second best and dreaming about what might have been.
Because as you've gathered from the rest of the post, it doesn't.