I wrote yesterday about how what you know isn’t always powerful enough to overcome what you feel. Today, I want to look at knowing and understanding, and how those things can impact the management of one’s mental illness.
Knowing a fact isn’t the same as understanding it. I know that e=MC2, but I couldn’t explain the physics behind that equation if my life depended on it. Similarly, someone who is battling a mental illness might know that it is merely their demons lying to them, but that doesn’t mean they understand that they can do something to push back on those lies. And I get it, it is so damn hard because those demons are so damn good at lying. I know, I’ve found myself in that vicious position too many times to count.
Most recently, I was reading one of my new father books. I love being a new father, but it also pushed my anxiety level up a few rungs. And one of the things I was most anxious about was that I would pass my demons, my battle with mental illness, on to my daughter. And despite my therapist telling me all the science, and despite all my friends and family reassuring me, I still had this fear.
Because knowing that I had no control over whether or not she would have similar battles wasn’t the same as understanding for me. Yet while reading one of my father books last night, it presented child personality types, but then also suggested that the father look at his own personality types. And I understood then what so many have tried to get me to know, which is that my daughter is her own person.
And when she has hard times, which she inevitably will, her mother and I will be there to guide her. And if she does develop battles similar to the ones I struggle with, then I will be so well equipped to help her with that too. Because the most important thing is that I will be there for her.
And this relationship between knowing and understanding doesn’t just apply to parenting with a mental illness either. It applies to so many aspects of managing a mental illness. Because understanding is a much harder thing for your demons to lie about.
So wherever you are in your journey, in your battle with mental illness, know that you are not alone. And I hope that more importantly, you understand that.
Until next time, be well.