When I was little, I would always imagine what it was like to be older. I always saw adults as having a glamorous life, one where you could make your own choices, work at a job you love, have amazing friends, and go out whenever you want. I was (and still am) a classic daydreamer. You can find me staring off into space, content in my own little world, on a regular basis. I always dreamt of the future, my future, hoping it would come faster.
Unfortunately, those shiny daydreams of my future life hit a wall when I realized how hard it actually is to grow up and how fast it really came. Getting older hasn’t proven itself to be as glamorous as I always imagined it would be. Instead it’s full of stress, heartache, and pain. Don’t get me wrong, there are and always will be those days and moments of pure joy and blissful peace, but it’s definitely not all that I had in mind.
One of the hardest things for me has been learning how to cope and deal with all of the craziness that accompanies adulthood. It used to be so much easier, I could just curl up on the couch and sleep the day away. If I was lucky, I might have even been able to enjoy some chocolate chip cookies with my mom while she sat with me and I cried. Now I live about 1,000 miles away from my family and I have many more responsibilities, so that’s not really an option anymore.
Mental and physical illnesses don’t help the stresses of being a responsible adult. It can be so draining that an entire week goes by where all you want to do every morning is crawl back under the covers and wait for the nightmare that is your own mind to quiet down so you can get on with your life. At least, that’s how it is for me sometimes.
We tend to let ourselves think that mental and physical illnesses can and do define us. That instead of being ourselves, we just are depression or anxiety or cancer or whatever it may be. We see ourselves as broken. And we let that run our lives for a while. Suddenly, we’re not just dealing with work and school and trying to balance a social life and all the stress we already deal with, but now, on top of it all, we’re also broken.
Now, I don’t know about all of you, but that is just not how I want to live my life! I hate when other people see me as broken, so why do I let myself believe it? So I don’t live that way. I choose not to.
People ask me a lot how I can be so sick physically, going through hell mentally, and yet still smile and laugh through all of the pain? I tell them what my mom always told me, you just have to put your big girl pants on and deal with it! It doesn’t make it any better to sit around and mope all day that my life is really hard and poor me and all that jazz, so why not live a little and find joy in the misery?!
If I didn’t tell people I was sick, they would have no idea. You can ask anyone, I look and act totally fine. I still go out with my friends, I still laugh while watching “New Girl” in my apartment, and I still score really well on my exams. Even though my body is incredibly weak from being sick and taking medication, I still go hiking or to the gym, which sometimes can prove to be a very comical adventure (I totally tripped off the treadmill because I got really dizzy one day, it was hilarious).
It’s not easy. Living with any kind of mental or physical illness (or anything even remotely hard for that matter) has never been easy, and it probably never will be. But sitting at home all day, every day is letting it win. We are fighters. We are strong, even when we feel so weak. And we can’t afford to let it win. So we keep on living our lives, the ones we want to live.
Truth be told, I still have really bad days where I break down and just can’t do it anymore. No matter how strong I feel, no matter how many methods I use for coping, it doesn’t make all of my problems disappear; sometimes it’s just too much for me to handle.
I had one of those days about a week ago. All of my triggers were going off, I was very quickly overwhelmed with everything that was happening around me, and I finally just broke. I was, thankfully, surrounded by some of my closest friends who transported me back to my childhood days of crying, cuddling, and warm chocolate chip cookies. The next day was a new day, and I went back to the person I want to be: the real, genuine, happy me.
The point is, we can’t live our lives waiting for everything to go away. It’s not going to. We have to deal with everything that is thrown at us. We have to fight, and we have to win. And we will win.
But sometimes, we all just need some cuddling, crying, and a cookie.