Resilience: The Key (To Living With Mental Illness)

When I was a young boy, I looked at the world around me and saw adults who were happy, stable, strong and invincible. When I look at the world around me now, I think back to my perception as a child and say to myself “I wish you were right!” So many people think that adulthood is this glamorous stage of life, that they often rush to grow up. Life isn’t a video game. We can’t undo the pain caused by the consequences of our actions, but what we can do is learn from our mistakes and make sure that our actions won’t have the kind of consequences that we’ll regret.

I come from (internal) pain and anguish. I look at the world around me and realize that I’m now a part of what I once thought was an “invincible stage of life.” I’m not stable or invincible, but one thing that I try to be on a daily basis is strong. I sacrificed so much of who I once was, hoping that I could right my wrongs, but I only ended up doing more harm than good. I often reflect on how much of myself I sacrificed for people who threw that all away. After a while, I realized the harsh reality of life. No one’s obligated to do anything for you, even if you do a lot for them. That’s not how life works. Your choices are yours to make, but they don’t initiate responsibilities for others.

As a child, I’d find it so sad when I looked at people staring into space while on the train. Their eyes filled with loss, pain, confusion, anxiety. Now? I’m one of those people, distracted by his own internal darkness. It’s funny how quickly the world changes once you hit adulthood, isn’t it?

I frequently try thinking of ways I could be the person I was once and in the past few days, I’ve come up with an answer that has helped me understand the world on a deeper level. The harsh reality is that we’re already dying. From the moment we’re born, time is working on killing us. It’s what we do in the meantime that makes us who we are. Our difficulties can either break us down and defeat us, or shape us into warriors.

There are some similarities in the thought process of adults and teenagers and I don’t often get to talk about it. Today, I will.

  • “I need to lose weight, but I have no money for a trainer or gym membership.”
  • “People never change.”
  • “I’d love to go out the movies, I just have no money to spend like that.”
  • “I’m no one.”

The financial struggle is too real for lots of people, unfortunately. It’s like we’re born to work instead of just sit back and enjoy the short amount of time we have in life. Still, though, as humans, we like to make excuses because a lot of us want to make improvements but want the process of change to be easy. It isn’t. It’s hard. It’s really fucking hard. It’s so hard that sometimes, I’d like to go on a jog and get eaten by a bear so that I don’t have to get back to the difficulties of my reality.

I had a period of time in my life where my living room became my gym. I’d do push-ups, planks, sit-ups, squats and so many other things to stay as healthy as I was able to, without the help of a gym and their equipment. It was pretty damn hard, but it worked. I’d go for short jogs since I didn’t have a treadmill and I’d use my chair to do some dips to strengthen my core and my hands/wrists.

It sounds like bad lyrics, but I hate looking into the mirror and seeing such a pale reflection of who I once was. I will admit to hating myself at a very, very intense level. Can I change? Probably not as much as I would have liked, but in some ways, but maybe. My traumas (from last year and from my childhood) have changed who I am, but that doesn’t mean I can’t adapt and evolve, in some ways.

Change isn’t about a complete remodel. It’s about each day, trying to be better than you were yesterday. If you can do that, then you’re mastering the art of change. You always have a key to open the door labeled change. You may not always like what’s behind the door, but if you can push through it, you’ll find happiness the closer you get to being where you want to be.

“But it just takes so much time that I don’t have.” I hear a lot of people say. As much as that may be the case, make time. Time is all we have until the day we die, so make sure, through all of your hardship, you do something new and something that makes you happy, each day. It could be something simple or something totally adventurous — your choice.