My name is Natalie and I am living with mental illness. I am not striving to recover, I am not craving deterioration. A vast majority of my thoughts are intrusive, obsessive compulsive and enough to sustain an unsettled state of being, but I have reached a place where I can say ‘ I am ok’ and I feel it would be foolish of me not to accept Okay.
I think back to my days of hospitalisation, my days where dreams of a Life were just that – dreams, and I have a small smile to myself. Not in a mocking way, but from a place of kindness for my young, naive self. My hopes for Life were firmly blue tacked to my clinical bedroom wall, each item on the list holding the promise of elation, satisfaction, emotional comfort and a destination where struggle and strife had no place. I see now, as I have never seen before, that my hospital dreams were for a Life that exists not even in happy-ever-after Fairy Tales.
I owe my survival to those unattainable hopes as, at the time, they served their purpose and kept me from the grave, they kept me striving for something I believed existed. I am thankful to the shrewdness of my brain – impregnating my mind with such ideals. If I had known then what I know now, about what it means to Live, I would not have had the strength, at that time, to be able to handle the truth.
Strip away my mental afflictions and I believed I would be invincible, the world my oyster, my desires nothing but attainable. Comfort and warmth would flood my body and never leave. I had set myself up for nothing but a hard fall. And fall hard I did, time after time after time after time after time. Stories are shared of surviving hardship, of coming out the other side vowing that life from that moment onwards will be led to the full – I equated my years of pain and torture at the hands of mental illness to ,one day, mean that life would repay me in its magnificence.It’s so much easier to be sick when you believe compensation will one day be delivered. I was entitled to years of good harvest. Life was for Living.
I now see that my reward was in the not dying. My prize was to have a Life ahead of me. My trophy is motherhood, marriage and mere existence. I’m not yet Living how I wish to Live, but I have three Souls in my life who I never thought could be and of that, I must always remind myself.
I’m walking the walk as we all are. A walk with mental illness is a constant up hill one,whilst others face a gentler gradient, but for all involved, it is relentless. Be there joy, sadness, grief, jubilation, fun, tribulations or adventures – in our very existence it is relentless. The moment the relentless drive of a beating heart ceases, is the moment Life ceases. Relentless doesn’t have to be bad, but it is exhausting. And exhausting is so painfully tiring. And dull. Sometimes.
Sometimes my Okay feels superhuman, but mostly, it’s just ‘ okay ‘. I don’t always dig Okay, but I must remind myself of the purgatory I inhabited for so many years. Okay is the stuff of dreams compared to those days.