mental health illnesses

Illnesses Deep Within Us

The inward depth of our minds is as extensive as the outward depth of the universe. Deep down within us there are illnesses that can’t be seen. Our doctors are even blind to them. We can see them in our fellows sometimes if we know them well enough. These illnesses include depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, anger, loneliness, and despair. When we focus outward instead of inward, not only does it give us the medicine we need, but with that kind of willingness, we are also able to help one another.

I’m not going to lie.  It’s scary to share about the depths of my disease of alcoholism, but it’s not as scary as it was living in those depths alone. Having the willingness to go into “my dark place” that’s within me and clean house begins to make room for mindfulness and joy.

What I experienced when I reached my post-stroke low was denial. I stopped fighting for myself. I didn’t want to face the pain that I felt in my head. Just like I didn’t want to face the pain in my heart when I reached my low in active alcoholism. I feared changing. I feared the unfamiliar. I feared the uncertainties that lied ahead. But just as with my bottom as an active alcoholic, I finally admitted that after 2 years of denial this stroke changed me and my abilities. I recognized I could no longer live with the chronic pain and impairments that I was experiencing as a result of my stroke.

I’ve learned in recovery that the only way life can get better is if I stop looking away from it and lean into the pain and discomfort. It seems in most cases, things hurt more before they feel better. The worse it feels, the longer it takes to heal, and the more beautiful life is on the other side of the pain.