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Mental and physical health shapes your life.
Whether you are in peak shape, or you are struggling, it will change how you approach life.
Sometimes with anxiety, depression, PTSD, chronic pain, etc., just small bouts, and/or mainly seeing it from an outside perspective, it can be hard to really empathize or understand what these feel like.
The other day, I was having a conversation with someone, and I was expressing what was going on with me. Attempting to express my struggles, I didn't really know how to word it, and simply said I was feeling really exhausted. With that, I got a quick suggestion to take a nap, have some coffee, or chill. I respected them trying to help, but deep down, I knew none of those would help. I had deeper mental and physical issues that require a very different approach, maybe even just having to wait them out, as I continue a routine of 'good habits.'
As someone who has struggled with both chronic pain and mental health issues, I've had moments where I'll ask someone if they sometimes feel a certain way, and they'll just stare blankly saying "no, I really haven't." A few times even, I've had them almost argue as if how I felt was just me not processing it right.
In the last few months, I've hit a point of realizing, there are high chances a large amount of people will not understand my experience. No, I'm not some special unicorn with a 'mountain of angst you'll never understand.' I'm just someone who is trying so hard to deal with the past and present, so I can feel better in the future.
The biggest aha moment I had was scrolling Twitter the other day. I hit a post of someone expressing their recent understanding of chronic pain.
"It affects every aspect of your life" they said.
In the same vein of their realization, I came to the full realization that not everyone suffers from mental illness, or some varying degree of chronic pain. Maybe that sounds silly, but I've lived with it so long that I genuinely do not remember how it feels to not experience it.
As I sat at my computer, struggling to keep myself focused for eight hours, taking deep breaths to calm my anxiety, flooding shame, and keep myself alert as I drifted into exhaustion, my back lightly aching, I realized, this isn't everyone's experience. In some ways it made me sad, but in other ways it was strangely wonderful to know.
Firstly, it made me realize, there are people for who this job would be perfect. Then, it made me see the high chances there are job options that would be a great fit for me, but not for others. Finally, it made me see that it is okay to adapt to fit your own needs.
Each person is different, and that is wonderful.
For me, mental health comes first. For some people, they can just keep attacking a challenge for hours on end with such intensity. Though they may hit low points, there seems to be this intense pride in the battle. I really respect that. But, I really can't do that. My mental health is already so fragile, I do not have the mental room to push myself to breaking, because I'm practically there 24/7 already.
It is important to know your limits, strengths, and boundaries.
As I grow older, it becomes paramount to know what I need to do to manage. It is important to evaluate what works for you. Now, we can't all live a super lavish, lazy life, or some perfect dream, but we can adjust bits and pieces to better thrive. Pursuing passions that drive you might just bring a better balance. Everything takes work; but, what fits your values and strengths, and doesn't cross your boundaries of who you are fundamentally? Maybe it might not look as impressive to you as someone else, but honestly, a part of your life might be equally as impressive to them.
Take care of yourselves out there,