It’s not like we ASK depression, anxiety, trauma, addiction, or eating disorders to camp out in our brain and make life miserable. We don’t INVITE them
It’s not a matter of us being stubborn or difficult, and it’s definitely not a matter of us opting in.
Everybody who struggles with depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, or an eating disorder wishes they didn’t. Nobody’s finding it fun. Nobody’s getting off on the kind of attention ANY of these generates.
It drives me up a wall when someone suggests that people who are suffering, are somehow getting off on the “secondary gains” associated with emotional or behavioral struggles.
We, as a culture, really don’t like the idea that emotional or behavioral struggles can hit ANYBODY.
(We don’t like the idea that illnesses or struggles of ANY kind can hit ANYBODY, really.)
Some people in our culture perpetuate this myth that emotional or behavioral struggles result from a lack of “character” or “willpower.”
They perpetuate this myth largely to manage their own anxiety that they, too, might be at risk.
They really, really want to think of emotional or behavioral struggles as something that they can “immunize” themselves from.
If only that were the case.
If you struggle with depression, anxiety, trauma, addiction, or an eating disorder, it’s NOT because you lack “character” or “willpower.” It’s NOT because you crave “attention.” It’s NOT because you’ve failed at life or you’re uniquely “bad.”
Victim blaming mythology dies hard in our culture.
The changes many of us have to make to manage our risk and reduce our symptoms are rarely easy. Often they involve challenging patterns of thought, belief, and behavior that stretch back years.
Recovery from emotional or behavioral struggles often asks us to reinvent who we are— which can seem like an overwhelming task.
Nobody who actually knows anything about emotional or behavioral struggles thinks recovery is easy or simple.
Emotional and behavioral struggles knock many of us off our life plans.
My depression, addiction, and trauma issues knocked me off my life plan. I was supposed to be either a professional musician or a lawyer and politician by now.
(Ask anybody who I went to junior high with— 2020 was SUPPOSED to be the year I was elected president.)
But life had other plans.
I didn’t wake up one morning and decide that I wanted to steer my life into a dark, painful place.
I woke up one morning, and found that I was in a place so dark I couldn’t see my hand in front of my place.
I didn’t wake up one morning and decide that I wanted to make myself psychologically and physiologically dependent on a substance in much the same way male members of my family had been for generations.
I woke up one morning and realized that if I didn’t take this substance, withdrawal symptoms would make my life unlivable that day.
We don’t actively choose these struggles.
We are dealt the hand we are dealt.
We DON’T choose the cards we are dealt.
We CAN learn how to play our hand in such a way that we stay in the game— but we need to be realistic about the fact that nobody “chose” to get dealt this difficult, painful hand.
All of which is to say: it’s not your fault.
And but also: it’s not your destiny.