Earlier this morning, my computer froze mid-writing. Fortunately, I'm hip to cultural cues, so I knew exactly what to do: I persisted.
I just kept typing. No new words appeared on the screen. Nothing saved. But I kept going. And I'd like my medal now. The one we get for persisting no matter what. Because that's always the right answer.
Wrong. Persisting is NOT always the right answer if you are in some form of mental health recovery. At least not this "just keep taking action" form.
Why? Because the same way soldiers can't fight a battle every single day for decades without resting & expect to win, we can't fight the battles inside our heads every single day for decades without resting & expect to win.
Recently, I was reminded of that. I was making too many withdrawals on my resilience bank account without making enough deposits. And as I drove myself from one obligation I resented to another, I found myself eyeing up trees to drive into.
Was I in real danger? No. I'm a scrappy survivor who will do any of a thousand "selfish" things (like say no to other people, treat myself to a massage or go on a retreat) before listening to thoughts like that.
But some combination of nature & nurture made it so I have a brain that thinks that way. I get depleted & it whispers "probably time to just give it all up."
It's not my fault, but it is my responsibility. If your brain strays to similar terrain, that's true for you too.
Our responsibility, our most important job, is to survive.
Surviving is how we truly persist. Not running ourselves ragged. That kind of persisting may be the dubious luxury of other people, but it's not an option for us.
So PLEASE do what you need to do for you. When you're tempted to push past the point of depletion, think about how ridiculous it is to keep typing when your computer is frozen.
Prioritize making it to another day above all else. Even if it means accepting hard truths: a massage or a retreat isn't a cure-all. It's what works for me after thousands of hours working on my mental health, including stints in inpatient treatment. Know where you are on your journey & don't be afraid to seek professional help.
Originally published on Facebook & Instagram on February 27, 2018.