I’ve made the comparison of mental disease to the disease of addiction for a long time now. I’m neither confirming nor denying that those who are mentally ill are addicted to their illness, rather I’m simply stating the fact that they, just as the addicts do, have to choose wellness.
I’ve had a few addicts cross my path in life, along the way showing me the parallels between our diseases. There’s the recovery and relapse facets, creating new good habits and falling into old bad habits, removing yourself from people, places, and situations that trigger symptoms, the slippery slope into relapse, the ‘never cured, only recovered’ aspect, and the ultimate of making the conscious decision of recovery.
Having addicts in your life is no walk in the park, but it gave me some great takeaways. Watching someone you love lose themselves to a hopelessly reckless lifestyle, go through intervention, ultimately forced into rehab only to come out and fall right back into their old patterns and behaviors as though they have no control over it because they weren’t ready to choose recovery, and then watching them almost die because of it is terrifying and traumatic to all those involved. That whole process though, it bore so many similarities to my own struggle with my illness that it gave me the ability to recognize and rectify whatever situation I found myself in. The overarching parallel point being that no one can force a person to try and get better from any disease; you must choose recovery.
Just like an addict I had to hit my own personal rock-bottom in life. Moments so grave that I began to wake up and realize that by not taking action, I was giving my precious life to this savage disease. I was in my 20’s, the prime of my life. It felt like the equivalent of setting $100 bills on fire. It shook me to my core, made me want to pick myself up off the floor, give this disease the absolute middle finger, and claim my life back.
Recovery is a tough decision! It’s certainly not the path of least resistance. Obviously it’s easier to just let illness have you til there is no more of you, and generally the apathy is already there to contribute to your degradation. I knew however, that no one else was going to do it for me. No one else was going to usher me along, pick up the pieces of my life, put them back together, clean up the messes I’d made along the way, and make sure I did what was necessary to get better. I had support along the way, but in the end the only one that was going to be responsible for any real improvement was me. Every single day.
Every day it meant I had to make the choice to really own up to my illness, take responsibility for how it had affected my life, and start figuring things out going forward. It’s a long, arduous path, the one to wellness, as such with any disease. No one ever said recovery was easy, but anyone on the other side of it will tell you it was their choice and no one else’s.
Peace, love, and choosing wellness.