So why am I going on about this? I had a lovely chat with someone yesterday about transformation, letting go and moving into newness. Metamorphosis, transformation or change, involves a process of fear and letting go. Even if you don't believe in God, in changing you have to step out into the unknown with a degree of "faith" in the hope and expectation that something good may come of your exercise in positive risk taking. It's either that, or fester in the rut of comfortable suffering.
We talked about tadpole to frog. The tadpole may never believe that it could live without water or a tail. But, as it forces its way upward to the meniscus, new legs popping out of its side, tail diminishing, there is a beautiful resistance between old an new; friction as it presses its face towards sunshine and fresh air and explodes through an invisible barrier. And in its arrival into the new universe, surprisingly it finds it can breathe, jump on lily pads, eat flies with a very long and exciting tongue and generally have a whole new experience. The struggle was real, but it was worth it. And our frog can still dip into the water, know it's depths and challenges, but it no longer needs to spend its whole life there. He has been transformed.
For me, living with a debilitating mental illness makes me feel like I have been cloaked in otherness. I wear the insect like exoskeleton. Although I am me, it's not the uninhibited real me. Whilst poorly and attempting recovery, I push against the invisible film surrounding me and fight to break out of the constraints to reconnect and to breathe effortlessly. In this space, I am Kafka's constricting, life limiting insect. Whilst suicidal, I am the tadpole, sitting on the algae in the bottom of the pond, wholly believing that I will never reach the surface again. I consider going to my bedroom and not returning.
However, I find myself more recently, throwing off the shackles that have held me back and am spending more time on the lily pad. The things I believed were helpful or necessary have been discarded in order for me to grow skills for the world of the well. And although this process is uncomfortable, fear provoking and throws everyone I know into mild disarray, it has been worthwhile. I am beginning to feel "normal".
The biggest indicator of this transformation is when my Mum and sister recently saw me (In the real flesh sense and by photo) and both commented, "Oh, you actually look like you!". A sentence of 6 words, encompassing 10 years of hard work, struggle, terror and a "Fuck you mental illness" attitude.
Struggling with the invisible monster is a daily occurrence. The degree of struggle varies, but it doesn't disappear. Wellness, recovery and happiness are achievable. I know it isn't that way for everyone, but for me, giving it a go is everything. The desire to really live is strong. Existing for me is not enough. SO I will keep showing up, and if you think I don't really look like me, I am still there. Maybe I just need you to recognise my struggle and walk with me patiently whilst I readjust between pond and pad, exoskeleton and the glorious nakedness and freedom of wellness.