self-assessment and strengths

I read recently that it’s important to accurately assess ourselves. To look at ourselves and get to know our strengths and weaknesses.

That was good for a laugh. Which was nice, because laughter has been in short supply of late.

This post was originally going to go somewhere else. I had it in mind to write about the pauses in recovery. How recovery is fits and starts, and how we end up stalled at times.

That was before the backsliding became more apparent.

I’m not falling; that implies a speedier decline, but I am sinking, and I don’t like it much at all.

Who does, really?

Slippage feels worse when you know what’s down below.

I’ve been struggling with insomnia for a few months and my depression has been getting worse. It’s a bit of a “chicken and egg” scenario. It’s possible the insomnia is causing the slide. It’s equally possible that the slide is causing the insomnia. It doesn’t really matter. The end result is that things are a struggle.

I struggle with my neuroses on the one hand, and my eating disorder on the other. They’re interconnected, but the things I do to work on them are different. I’ve been working hard on my eating disorder recovery while at the same time feeling my mood slip away from me.

It’s frustrating and the “why bother” of depression is starting to make working on my eating issues a challenge.

The forever nature of mental illness is a frustration. I wish there was a pill that you could take that would fix everything forever. A rewiring that makes a recurrence impossible. Alas, there is not. There’s only reality, and reality means that I cycle. Sometimes I’m up, and sometimes I’m emphatically not.

In the midst of all of this, my son has come to me and told me he will be moving out, away from home and into a basement suite with his girlfriend. This is a good thing. They’ve been together a year, they’re good together, and his life is moving forward, as is appropriate.

I should be happy for him, and I am, but this change is also grief-inducing. My baby is leaving home. Things may change and he may at some point come back to stay for a bit, but he will never again be my child at home full-time. This is a hard adjustment.

Harder when you’re slipping. For years, my son was the thing that kept me grounded, kept me here. I never told him that, never even hinted at it; it’s too much weight to put on a person, but it was for him that I soldiered on. It was for him that I kept fighting. Now he’s moving out into the adult world and there is a part of me that has given a sigh of relief.

I can let go. I can give up. I don’t need to fight anymore.

That’s the thing that I hate. The forever nature of the fight. I’m doing it. I’m up, I’m dressed, and I had breakfast. I’m journaling, I’m meditating, and I’m writing. But underneath is that little voice stating how irrelevant and pointless everything is.

The little voice that asks, over and over, why bother?

The only answer I have is “because”. Because why not? Because the quote from Walt Disney, “keep moving forward” continues to echo in my brain, even when I wish it wouldn’t. Even when I wish it would just let me let go.

The repeated refrain serves to remind me, however, of the cyclic nature of depression. It is flowing right now, but it will ebb again once more. My meds will likely be increased, and I’ll pick my way through, and live to fight another day.

Perhaps if would seem easier if we could schedule the battles, if we knew they were coming. I could choose February and May and August as months I agree will be given over to depression. I could plan and brace myself. Stock up on mental provisions. It’s a good idea; unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way.

It just is, and we just are.

Perhaps that’s one of my strengths. When I read “identify your strengths”, the laugh happened because I rarely give myself props (I can, however, list my faults without effort or encouragement). But the truth is, I’m persistent. I keep going. I’ve done this up and down journey many times, and I’ve survived. I may not have thrived, I may not be thriving now, but I’m here, when many of the people I met along the way who also struggled with mental health issues and addiction are not.

The ability to keep placing one foot in front of the other no matter what, no matter how dire things feel, no matter that I’ve tried to give up a time or three, is a valuable skill.

We all have something, even if, at times, it feels like we don’t.

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