Life has been so busy lately, as usual. Sometimes I wonder why I bother to say that anymore at all. The reality is that “busy” is not only my normal nowadays, but pretty much everyone else’s normal too. When people ask me how things are going, I often say, “it’s been busy.” But really, could just say, “it’s been normal.”
I think I’m starting to realize a similar trend when it comes to mental health. It seems like stress, anxiety, and mental illness are at an all-time high in our world. It seems to me that it is becoming “normative” nowadays for people to struggle with some issue of mental health at some point in their lives. This has become even more clear to me as I write and share my stories through Braver Than Before. Every day I receive comments from people who can relate to my struggles because they are going through, or have been through, something similar.
On one hand, I am so glad that we have come to a place where our world is starting to become aware of the problem of mental illness, and the stigma is starting to shift. Realistically, culture has to adapt to this change because of how prevalent this issue is! In many ways, mental illness is the new “normal” for so many people.
But on the other hand, I am seeing a negative effect of this reality on my life. Lately, I have started to notice myself “coasting” through my days, content to stick to the status quo. I have been so encouraged by how many people have shared that they relate to my struggles over the past few months. But because this response has been so widespread, I think that I have almost started to become comfortable within this cocoon of support and have subconsciously slowed my progress to bask in it for a while.
I started Braver Than Before as a platform through which I could process and share the ups and downs of my journey to fully recover from fear and anxiety. Full recovery is, and always has been, my goal. I am not saying that I can’t have seasons where I need to coast for a while. Maybe sometimes those seasons are just a necessary part of recovery. And while I always want to be able to write openly about what it is like to live with mental illness, I never want that to steer me off track from my objective to overcome mental illness.
Some people would tell me that I can’t overcome mental illness, and that I will have to learn to live with it for the rest of my life. To some degree, I think the distinction between the two ideas is minimal. It’s simple semantics. To me, overcoming means learning to function at my very best, despite my weaknesses and shortcomings. To others, that is living with mental illness.
But still, I have to believe that one day this will look like me actually being less anxious and fearful. Whether you call it living with or overcoming, I have to suppose that if I keep at this, I will start to see some progress in my life where I am actually less debilitated by my symptoms on a daily basis. To me, this is a worthwhile journey to be on.
Mental illness may be the new “normal” in our world, just like busyness is the new “normal.” And I think this is a good thing because of the awareness it brings to the issues and the acceptance we are starting to show ourselves and others who suffer from these incapacitating struggles. But that being said, I never want it to become so “normal” for me that I give up trying to fight, or become content to live my life in this comfortable bubble of support. I always want to keep fighting, and want to ask all of you to hold me to that. I never want to give up on my dream of full recovery.
I know that I will never arrive. Every day I am on a journey to become braver than before, and every day I make a little bit of progress. But if I stop pursuing the goal, if I stop fighting towards total recovery, I will eventually start slipping backwards. And I don’t want that! I always want my bravest days to be in the future, never in the past.
Do you ever find yourself becoming comfortable in the status quo and slipping into autopilot? How do you start pushing yourself forward again once you’ve noticed yourself coasting for a while?