I have come to the conclusion that the two hardest concepts to accept are that life is unfair and that we can only control ourselves, and sometimes not even that.
I am dealing with a very difficult situation right now that is unfair, out of my control, and very uncertain. It is very hard right now.
The situation: someone close to me relapsed into her mental illness, which was triggered by physical illness and a new full-time job. I watched her rapidly decline and then last Sunday she disappeared. Her sister had to file a missing persons report.
I feel angry, worried, sad, happy, frustrated, worried, disappointed, positive, pessimistic, worried, okay, not okay, melancholy, worried, despairing, forgetful, overwhelmed, worried, exhausted, in denial, anxious, tense, fed up, worried…
My two main consolations are that I have a big support network of friends, family and mental health professionals who are helping me through this and that everybody that I have talked to, whether with a mental health diagnosis or not, has told me that handling uncertain and out of control situations is universally tricky, baffling, hard.
And then today I received news that an acquaintance of mine lost her life to her mental illness.
Sometimes I am grateful for my mental illnesses because without them I would not have learned my current coping skills and would not lead such a healthy life. Today I am not.
I know a lot of people will want to comfort me by telling me that, “it’s all part of God’s plan.” But I call that bullshit, so don’t even try. If God gives some people a condition that makes them feel so full of despair that they decide to dangerously run away or kill themselves, then I do not want that God. No, I do not believe that everything is part of a plan, but rather that in everything we can find meaning. Because of these tragedies, I can renew my vow to take my medication as prescribed and to otherwise take care of myself. I can choose to renew the bonds I have with the people I love. I can decide to reach out to others who are suffering and to reduce the amount of mental health stigma all that I can. These are meanings that I can assign to the sufferings that I have witnessed, but these sufferings were not started so that I would do these things.
Sometimes life is just unfair, out of control, incomprehensible and uncertain.
I think if we can deal with that reality without becoming too jaded or mean then we have reached enlightenment. Enlightenment and self-actualization are not about becoming the perfect person, but about staring into the abyss and not succumbing to the spirit of despair.
I am not perfect, but I am self-aware. I am determined to keep growing, living, and improving as long as I can. My mind is muddy and I am doing everything I can to try to self-soothe myself in healthy ways and sometimes it works. Sometimes not so much, but that is life. Today I want to keep living, doing the next right thing, just one day at a time.
For now, I will try to add broad splashes of green and blue and purple and orange to science's black and white brush strokes. Together, we will fill in autism's canvas until a clearer picture comes forward.