Do you remember what it means to be normal? To be healthy? To not just be a label?
I don’t think I do.
I don’t think I recall a time where I was stable, happy, just…me. I don’t think I can access those memories of a time before mental health intervention, before the labels started being tied to me like a ball and chain, before the weight of mental illness appeared on my shoulders.
And it’s kinda scary, to not remember those things. To not know if there was a time before mental illness. It means I have nothing to look back on to figure out if I’m getting better. I don’t know if I’m currently stable, and happy, and me, or if I’m climbing the ladder to hypomania. I’m as sure as I can be that I’m not. I’m sleeping fine, my eating is normal for me, I’m just…happy.
I spoke to my therapist about it. She said she doesn’t think I’m hypomanic. But I don’t remember a time where feeling happy, joyful and like myself didn’t equal hypomania.
I can only relive memories of partying too hard because I was so emotionally high, of spending money like it grew on trees, of no fear, of risky sexual encounters and poor relationship decisions. I only have those memories, and honestly, I’d rather not have them.
Is it wrong? Is it awful? Is it shocking that I am so questioning of my happiness? My new normality?
I am trying to just accept it, but in the back of my mind is that worry, that niggle, that this could just be another ‘episode.’ Yet another time in my life where I feel good but then, in the future, look back and see how awful things were, how poorly I was behaving.
I don’t think I am, behaving poorly that is. But it’s hard to believe that I am just healthy, just happy, just free, when I can’t remember a time before mental illness to compare to.
I did some shadow work the other day. I cried. Do you know why? Because I wrote “It’s OK to be healthy.” I cried trying to believe that that is true. Trying so hard to believe that I am healthy, and that it is safe and OK for me to be well.
How warped is that? How wrong that I have lived for so long in a world where I was defined by my mental illness. So defined by it that now I cannot let it go. I cannot find myself outside of those labels. I cannot believe that I am anything other than mentally ill.
But I was. There was a time before mental illness, whether I remember it or not. And now I know that there will be a time after mental illness too.