With Mental Illness, It's Okay to Create Your Own Normal
I am a planner and a worry-wort. Due to my anxiety, I always need to have everything planned out in a specific way and I have an extremely hard time when plans change. When I was in high-school, I had my academic career planned out and I had anticipated exactly what was going to happen in the future. I was going to graduate high-school, go to Ryerson University to study Business Management and eventually get a masters degree. Little did I know that I was suffering from mental illness and that my carefully planned future was going to take me in a different direction.
With Mental Illness, Plans Change and Life Happens
I always felt that my life had to be lived a certain way. I was supposed to go to college and have the "college experience" that some people talk about. After graduating high-school I noticed a drastic change in my mood. I started to become paranoid about everything. I was obsessing over things that weren't even happening. I also started to become very sad without reason, but I thought that this was just a phase. I still wanted to move away from home for university because that was what I was supposed to do.
I moved to Toronto when I was 19 years old and attended Ryerson University. It was around this time that I really started noticing my feelings of depression and anxiety. I was sleeping all the time, isolating myself, worrying about everything and basically driving myself crazy. I started to self medicate with alcohol, which resulted in deeper depression and anxiety. Although I spent many nights at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, I still didn't understand what was wrong. I thought I needed a change of scenery, a so-called "geographical cure," so I moved to Ottawa at 22 years old.
After only attending one semester at college in Ottawa, I decided I needed to take a break. I checked myself into rehab for a month and went on a medical leave from school for the semester. A big part of me thought that I was a failure for doing this. I thought that I wasn't doing what I was supposed to do, and that life wasn't going the way I planned. I was so frustrated with myself that I wasn't living a "normal" life; but, what is normal?
Stop Comparing to Other People's Normal - Make Your Own Normal
We are all different. One person's story will never be exactly like the next person's. So why are we always trying to fit into a certain mold which portrays how we think things are supposed to be? I have learned a very valuable lesson in my mental illness and addiction recovery - create your own normal. If I have to take a semester off school to focus on myself, that's fine. If I never have that "college partying experience" because I am an addict, then so be it. I have been to rehab and a mental institution, why should I be ashamed? The less time I spend comparing my normal to someone else's, the happier I will be. This is my normal, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
I hope that we can start spreading the word to other teens and young adults that it is okay to create your own normal with mental illness or without and that it is okay if things do not go according to plan. I had a certain picture of how my life was supposed to be and I tried so hard to mimic that picture that I became mentally exhausted. There is so much pressure from TV, movies and social media which portrays a certain lifestyle to be most desirable. However if we create our own normal, living with mental illness can be a lot more manageable.
U'Ren, S. (2014, April 3). With Mental Illness, It's Okay to Create Your Own Normal, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 19 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/mentalhealthforthedigitalgeneration/2014/04/living-with-mental-illness-its-okay-to-create-your-own-path
Author: Samantha U'Ren
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