Last week, my therapist suggested that I give my mental illnesses too much power over me. Admittedly it is hard not to when anxiety ramps up the stress surrounding routine tasks and depression sucks all energy and will power from you. But maybe she is right. Maybe I do give it too much power, the way I let it torment me with nightmares and the way I let it keep me inside when the outside world is just too much.
I can’t change my mental illnesses. But I can change how I react to them. That was my therapist’s point. Winning this power struggle won’t happen overnight. Nor will it ever be a total victory. I will still have bad days. I will still struggle. Yet even taking a little bit of that power back, opening up my world a little more, would be an improvement.
It wouldn’t be earthshaking. It’d be little things. Not shying away from a conversation with a stranger. Being able to shower and get dressed when struggling with the worst of my depression. These things might seem trivial to people who don’t struggle with mental illnesses. They certainly wouldn’t seem like anything resembling a victory in some internal power struggle. Yet one of the insidious things about mental illness is how it turns trivial tasks into torturous endeavors. And overcoming those struggles, however small they may seem, are a big deal when it comes to the power struggle in my head.