Life with Mental Illness
I joke that my life hasn’t changed much during this pandemic. Dealing with social anxiety and obsessive/compulsive disorder make living a typical life challenging.
I rarely go the grocery store. Large crowds and endless food options leave me overwhelmed. Years ago, I needed to buy cereal. Ad I stood in the cereal aisle looking at a wall of cereal boxes my mind was blank. I knew what cereal I needed and yet I couldn’t think. I walked out.
I buy most of my groceries at the drugstore. I pick up my prescriptions, food, and cleaning supplies. It’s one stop shopping that works for me. Anything else I need I can order online.
Like most people at this time, I live with anxiety, fear, and sadness on a regular basis. I have to plan my shopping trip and I think about it for a day or two until I can drag myself out the door.
I’m telling you this, not because I want sympathy, but to illustrate what a particular group of society deals with one day at a time. The mentally ill. This new normal has been our normal for years.
Over the years I’ve often wondered, “what is wrong with me?” Everyone I know manages their lives with ease. The events that cause me stress are not a concern for them.
We live in a world where success is about how much money we earn or the prestigious titles we hold. Workaholics are admired. I grew up in a family with a strong work ethic. Working hard is a sign of a strong character. Laziness is frowned upon.
I don’t work because I can’t work. I feel I’m being lazy even though I know different. This leads to feelings of unworthiness and uselessness. This vicious circle of thoughts leads to depression and suicidal thoughts.
What is my purpose? What is the point of living? I have so little to offer. When I feel myself in a downward spiral I call a close friend or one of my kids. Their encouragement and humour are enough to pull me out of my funk. They remind me that I do have a purpose, a reason for living.
At some point in time, this virus will come to an end. Life will finally return to normal. The economy and stock market will bounce back. People will return to their jobs. Congregations will worship together and frontline workers will no longer be fearful. There is so much to look forward.
For some of us life will return to the normal we know. We will continue to be anxious about leaving the house to shop. Stressed about the crowds we encounter. Wondering if we can carry through with the plans we make with friends. We will continue to deal with feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
In the end, when life returns to normal for millions of people, there are those of us for whom life will carry on as it has long before this pandemic started. Sadly, that is not a joke.