I live with chronic, debilitating mental illness. I have had it my whole life. I am always working to improve myself, and the chemicals in my brain are always at odds with my intentions.
I have written before about the sliding scale that I use to determine my self-care plan when I am having a bad day. Today, I want to talk about the good days.
Today is a Good Day!
Everything is aligned in the magical world of Breelyland. It is the right phase of the moon, on the right day of my menstrual cycle, Mars is out of retrograde, and I am right with Jesus.
I woke up in a good mood. With energy. No muddled, cloudy thinking. This is it. A good day!
I have just come off a week of sliding between 3 and a 5 on my emotional scale. It is taxing and not very productive.
Bad days wear on me and my family and there is no one to take up the slack. Life just goes undone. But good days are different.
On a good day, I can look at problems and form a clear plan to solve them. I have the energy to stay motivated. I can laugh and make jokes. Interruptions in my schedule are taken in stride.
I am always excited when I realize I am having a good day. They are what keep me afloat.
How does it Feel?
The worst part of a good day is seeing my life clearly. On any day above a 7, I can see my failures the way the rest of the world sees me every day.
I see how immature my attempts at mimicking a real life really are. My disorganization and half-done projects come into clear focus. I see the cleaning and home improvements I need. I see how lonely and isolated I am.
Severe depression is not sadness. On bad days it is an emptiness that makes you feel like nothing. It is the opposite of feeling alive. Hollow. That is why depression is so exhausting and unmotivating. I have no drive because I am just empty.
Today I can feel. The tears come as sadness pushes me to realize how hard I try. Anger tenses my face as I think of how unfair my life is. Embarrassment fills me with dread at how others must see me. Fear and shame point at how inadequate I am.
But, since it is a good day, I push that out of my head and hit the ground running trying to fix all my problems in a day.
I take stock of where I am at. Prioritize. Formulate a plan. Start my day.
Seems so easy on a good day. Why is it so impossible normally?
The End of a Good Day
Good days are amazing. I accomplish so much and the relatively little effort it takes leaves me with energy to joke and talk to my husband. We discuss the future and make plans. Plans that we both know can only move forward on the next good day.
We both pretend this is forever and a new me. Living in the moment and seizing the day have become a way of life for us. I get sad at watching his face go through the expressions of knowing this is just temporary and tomorrow I might be gone.
What is the Point?
I think that some people might be confused by good days. They are not days that I just pushed through my laziness and did what I should be doing every day. They are magical unicorn days where the chemicals in my brain are adequately balanced to allow me to function on a semi-normal level.
They are still hard days in their own right. I am still mentally ill on those days. I can not make myself have more Good days from the strength of my will.
My hope is that raising awareness about Mental Illness and reducing stigmas surrounding discussing it can help people see me and other people with Mental Illness in a new light.
Instead of judging me for my bad days or discounting the accomplishments of my sporadic good days, they will begin to see all of me. How hard I work every day to build a good life for me and my family.