It’s been a mixed week for me. I’ve struggled with it, even though it wasn’t all that bad. My anxiety is still playing up and many people just don’t understand it because it’s an invisible illness. They see me go out to lunch with the expats or shopping with my mum, they don’t realise that I feel sick and stressed and get a poorly tummy after eating out, that I sit at the table as the conversation gets louder mentally calming myself, trying to block out the escalating noise that escalates my fear. They don’t know that I can’t go out alone, not that I keep that fact quiet, but they don’t see it.
So what does that have to do with gratitude? Well, I’m thankful for a supportive family, we have our differences, our moments, our arguments, but they support me even though they often don’t understand my illness either. They support me out of love, they trust me and my insight into my illness enough to know that I know what’s best for me, most of the time. They help me in more ways than I could possibly mention here. I am so thankful for them because, without my Mum and Step-Dad especially, I would literally never leave the house, I would have no life, I would be nothing but a victim of my anxiety. They make it possible for me to be more than that.
I’m grateful for my friends; those I have met in person and those I have yet to. They provide a constant, 24 hour, 7 day a week, 365 day a year support network. When I fall, they throw me ropes. When I am drowning, they remind me how to swim. When I am lost, they turn my internal GPS on. Without them I would feel so alone. Without them I wouldn’t know that many of us fight, mentally ill or not, for life at one time or another. Without them I would not understand true love and friendship.
And, in a funny sort of way, I am grateful for my illness. Without it I would not be the person I am today. While I may curse it, hate it and fight it, I know that it is because of it that I have grown into the person I now am. I may naval-gaze too much, but that has allowed me to learn about myself, to discover myself, and to begin creating myself. I am grateful that it has weeded out people in my life who didn’t really care, the fair-weather friends if you will.
It is not fun to be mentally ill. It is hard. Harder than you would ever imagine. But there are things for which we can be grateful. It has made me who I am, and who I am is pretty awesome, if an emotional wreck!