CLIMB — Make the Daily Effort for Happiness and for You
‘Climb’ is a Middle English word from the Old English word ‘climban’ from before the 12th century. It is defined as follows:
“to go upward on or along, to the top of, or over”
“to draw or pull oneself up, over, or to the top of by using hands and feet”
Recently, someone asked me if I have recovered from my mental health struggles, and it really made me think and I thought I would write some things down and share them with you. To answer their first question, I said this:
“It is definitely a journey to overcome my struggles, but I am finding what works for me to feel better every day. The word recover doesn’t really sit well for me because life and problems never go away, but it is about learning how to cope to keep yourself in a mentally healthy place to cope with the ups and the downs.”
They then asked a follow up question, which got me thinking even more — What has helped you the most in your journey. To this I replied:
“I can’t say that it has been one specific tangible thing that has helped me. If anything, it was an openness and willingness to consistently put effort into myself first in every decision and thought. Not in a selfish way, but learning to become my own advocate and protect myself from others and even myself. Attitude is everything and consistently choosing me and not just me; but a positive version of me, is crucial. It’s a decision I make every day and it was hard at first; but now, it is more of a habit if that makes sense.”
There is so much that goes into healing or recovering from mental illness. Also, I don’t think that recover is the best word to use when it comes to fighting mental illness. I’ve always seen my depression, anxiety, and other mental struggles more of a chronic condition rather than something that I can shake off permanently. At first, this idea of it being a chronic condition made me feel even worse. So hopeless that I thought I would never see the light of day again. I grew more tired because I realized I had to learn the ropes to bring balance into my life because I was dipping too deep into the dark side. I was trying to claw my way up a too steep of a muddy hill; leaving my fingers bloody, drenched in sweat, and dripping with mud.
The hill of mental illness will never go away. Or better yet, maybe we should call it the hill of life. As unfair as it sounds, some people are better equipped to climb it because they have the blessing of not having to face depression or some other mental illness. But that doesn’t make their climb any less challenging, just different. But I believe this is why I never really say “recover” from mental illness and say “healing” instead. Because none of us ever stop climbing. It’s a climb every day.
To climb the hill efficiently, I needed professional help. I needed an attitude adjustment. I needed to humble myself. I needed to see things differently, from a more positive perspective. I needed to stop looking at everyone else’s progress up the hill and not become jealous of their climbing equipment (methods of copings or talents and gifts they have that appear extremely helpful). I had to choose my priorities and realize I could indeed put myself back on the top of my list in order to achieve any kind of level of health again.
At first doing this was difficult because of the guilt I felt putting myself first and some people didn’t like me for it. I didn’t stay down like it appeared they wanted me to. I started to “work out my mind” to rewire and train my thoughts, so that I could start seeing myself in a better and positive light. I stopped holding in a personality that came naturally to me because before I was afraid people wouldn’t like it or think it strange or not want to be around me anymore. I’ll tell you what, the climb up the hill of life started to become way more manageable, more bearable. Dare I say, more enjoyable. I began to problem solve better, I started to recognize and follow my instincts better, I developed muscle to be able to climb that stupid hill.
Now there are days, that I believe everyone has, that go worse than others. Where it feels like I took one step forward and three steps back. Sometimes bigger steps than I hoped or would have liked. But being able to look back on everything I have learned about myself through therapy and self-reflection, those setbacks don’t seem as scary. They seem to be more of an interesting sidestep into another direction to try a different approach to keep me learning or growing. They help me adapt and evolve into someone better. Someone stronger, and someone I, myself, can admire. (Not in a Gaston from “The Beauty and the Beast” kind of way, but you catch my drift. You won’t catch me talking to myself in a mirror!)
All in all, life is hard. Life requires us to level up and sometimes it’s painful. Some of us have the extra weight of mental illness on our shoulders, making the climb even more difficult. BUT!! EVERYONE, and I repeat, EVERYONE can make the climb. (Sing it Miley Cyrus.) EVERYONE can have a beautiful life. EVERYONE is capable of greatness.
But most importantly, EVERYONE can be happy. =)