Limits, part two: the formative years

It’s hard to accept one’s bodily/mental limitations after years of either failing to identify them or completely denying them. I have spent such time time thinking I must do a certain set of things in life to earn my right to exist and I have done these things without any consideration of whether my body or mind can handle them. There has been no other option, I have had to do all the things. I used to always wonder how other people managed to allow themselves to take sick leave when they were exhausted or depressed or ill in some other way. I just always needed to do things, to work, be productive. Time off was not for me.

A major step for me was going to the doctor’s last year. I was a job seeker but felt like I probably couldn’t work full-time because I no longer had the energy to exist. This is what I said to the doctor. The doctor promptly ordered sick leave. He said ‘Shall we do three months’ and I remember gasping. What, me, on sick leave and for three months? The vulgarity of it all! That I would live off the state for any amount of time, I cannot! Other people should and can of course take time off when they need to, but as a human worse than any other human in the world this is not an option available to me.

We bartered, because my doctor saw the silliness of my illness for what it was, and finally we agreed on a month. During that month I was sicker than ever and had to spend some time at my parents’ to keep myself safe. It was like I had finally been given full licence to be as ill as I knew myself to be. The sick leave was a relief when it came, but my illness, the incredible bitch that it is, wouldn’t have allowed me to ask for it. I must but suffer and then I must die was ED’s happy little mantra. I envisage myself to have one day cracked and jumped off a tall building if I had continued to be under the thumb of my illness. I am glad I didn’t because Pihla would like to exist and Pihla would like to enjoy life. I think I can and I do, more and more every day.

…aaaaanyway, this sidestep was to illustrate my difficulty in accepting the limits of my capacity as a human. Even though the balance has now shifted from ‘I must do’ to ‘I want to do’, it is still hard for me to understand/accept that I cannot do everything and that I must at times rest, be quiet in a room, totes zoning out to Candy Crush, ocean wave Youtube videos or loving kindness meditation tapes (or silence!). No human can forever be ‘on’.

One of my big problems right now is that I constantly compare myself to healthy people and what they are capable of doing. Actually, at the moment I feel pretty capable and there isn’t much difference at all in my performance and the performance of healthy (meaning here people without major disorder episodes) people when it comes to work, study, daily task organisation and accomplishment. But, somehow, it’s not enough to be capable now. I think I am trying to overcompensate and do a lot because deep down I feel that what was my life for the last three to five years was a terrible failure and I am a human worse than other humans because my life was seriously affected by my illness. It’s a bit like thinking that someone, who had a serious somatic condition that was undiagnosed and untreated for many years and thus caused mayhem and destruction in their life, ought to have just gotten their shit together.

Fact is, this illness for me caused mayhem and destruction in all areas of my existence. It cut through everything. Mental illness does that when it’s severe enough I find. I cannot demand myself to be 100% yet, and I cannot demand that of my past. I am not superhuman. I am writing this for myself, as I continue to feel like a total suck-o every time I look at my CV, or my unfinished Masters studies, or my unfinished various projects, or my bank account. Yet I know, all this is temporary. I am taking steps, now that I can. I am trying my best to get to places in life. Educate myself, find employment, take care of myself, enjoy hobbies and the company of people. I shouldn’t panic or be impatient. Good things come to those who wait. I’ve got the rest of my days to spend on it all.

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