One of the first things I remember thinking when I was first diagnosed was “Why me? This isn’t what was meant to happen.” It’s a thought I’ve found myself coming back to recently. It’s a thought I know others also think this when it comes to their health, whether it be physical or mental issues they suffer with.
“This isn’t what was meant to happen.”
Isn’t that just life? Isn’t life just a series of things happening that weren’t what you expected or what you laid out for yourself? My life has various different versions of what “should” have happened, and each one of them contradicts the other. I can tell you that none of those versions saw me as a recently single, nearly 25-year-old who is on a suspension from university on mental health grounds.
When it comes to mental health I think we end up expecting way more from ourselves than we expect from our friends and family. And that’s not because we underestimate them. It’s because we hold ourselves to an unfair, unobtainable standard because it’s us. The more we fail that standard the worse we feel, which makes us fall even shorter of that standard the next time, and so on and so forth.
This idea of “this wasn’t what was meant to happen” is not a helpful one. If we keep dwelling on that then we only do ourselves a disservice. We end up thinking “If I’d done x then this break up wouldn’t have happened” or “If only I’d worked harder even though I literally had no energy to do it then I would have got a better mark on that exam” or “If only I’d made 37 different choices when I was 16 then maybe things would be better”.
If I spoke to people the way I spoke to myself, no-one would want to be around me. And they’d be right to feel like that. Every time I sit and think “this isn’t what was meant to happen” I end up down dark paths in which everything that has ever gone wrong in my life has been my own fault, I blame myself for things I had no control over. If someone came to me with similar thoughts, which has happened in the past, I would not remotely consider blaming them. Because, hey guess what, your depression isn’t your fault. You couldn’t have done something years ago that would stop it. You aren’t weak for experiencing it. It’s ugly and it’s scary and it’s one of the worst things you can experience. The fact you have admitted to yourself that there’s a problem is amazing. If you’re getting the help you need now, that’s a great achievement. If you’re not quite ready to take that step, that’s okay too. The idea that this “wasn’t meant to happen” is meaningless. It’s happening, whether you expected it to happen or not. And, that’s okay.
At some point, I need to believe that for myself. I need to stop expecting things from me that I would never expect from anyone else. I’m getting there. And if you struggle with this too, know you’re not alone.