I've had a really bad week. I couldn't put my finger on it, so I was grateful to have a therapy appointment last night. I have to say, doing therapy on my own couch isn't too shabby. Sometimes I even wear pajama pants because my appointments are at 10:00 at night and my therapist can only see the top half of me on his computer.
“You have an illness.” He said to me.
I do have an illness. My illness is a broken brain. Faulty ways of thinking. Misleading beliefs. Its symptoms are a compulsive urge to control, lousy self-esteem, persistent self-doubt and bouts of anxiety. I learned two important things about my illness while talking with my therapist last night.
1- I’m mad that I’m sick. I’m PISSED actually. I’m angry that I am perpetually plagued with feelings of inadequacy. I’m ticked that I feel so emotionally fragile. And I’m so damn frustrated that I can’t stop trying to control people and things.
2- My illness is not my fault. But it seems to me like it is. It seems to me that if I were better at recovery, if I were more clever, if I were less needy – then I wouldn't be so sick. But no.
“You’re illness came with you.” He tells me.
It’s as much a part of me as my blue eyes and my long toes. My illness was influenced by my upbringing just like my personality and sense of humor have been influenced. But I didn't earn my illness. Which means I can’t un-earn it by being more clever and less needy.
It also means that my illness wasn't caused by Pete’s addiction. My illness is no more his fault, than his addiction is my fault. Yes, his addiction has exasperated my symptoms. But just as certainly, my illness has exasperated his symptoms too.
It’s like getting strep for the third time in the same winter and being so pissed about it. But it’s there nonetheless. And all you can do is see a professional and take care of yourself. So that’s my game plan.
I have an illness. I’m pissed about it. But it’s not my fault.
Disclaimer: I understand that this language may not resonate with everyone. And that’s okay. I use the word illness at the very least, as a metaphorical convenience, at most- a statement of fact. An unhealthy condition of the body or mind. I don’t mean to sound critical of myself, or make it seem like I am damaged or inferior. Rather, I feel like this perspective is a liberating and compassionate way of viewing my messy self. And the first step in accepting my messy self. I imagine it is a similar experience for someone acknowledging the presence of chronic depression. It sucks. But it’s there. And depression doesn't make anyone damaged or inferior, because depression is an illness too.