Living with a mental illness or mood disorder takes so many tolls. The hardest hurt, the deepest bruise, is to the sense of confidence.
Social stigma causes us to feel outside, the object of fear and ignorance. That hurts.
Regular medical attention to an illness that nobody else can see causes us to develop a sense of ourselves as outside – apart from others. That grinds away at our sense of self worth.
And the behaviors that are unlike us, but which illness or mood swings can sometimes bring on, build awkward barriers between us and (often and unfortunately) those who care most for us. Yeah, that hurts
These things kill confidence and obscure those little times when we are in our state of grace: moments of small personal perfection that must be recognized.
I present these two states of mind – confidence and grace – for a reason, because I believe that a sense of wounded confidence can be healed by acknowledging the small moments of the day when everything is right and in its place. Where we are right.
Readers of your publisher’s work in other places will know that I put a lot of value on lifestyle – food, life balance, love, exercise – as the way to stay in the light. But I have more often written about the broader social and physiological things, as opposed to the softer, more personal aspects. I’ll try to create a little balance today.
Each of us has a place – a zone – where we are perfect. A place a wise friend calls our place of genius. Even amid the black dogs that run, barking but unseen, in the thicket that sometimes surrounds us, we all have this place.
Maybe it is the daily walk to the beach for an evening swim. Maybe it’s the fifteen minutes in the garden. Walking with the hound. Perhaps it’s a small mindful time peeling carrots for supper – really feeling, smelling, listening. Maybe it is just holding the old guitar you’ll play again some day.
It may be a small time, something you just assume. But it is your true anchor. They are there, those tiny moments of grace, where we can grow from – where we start to get back our confident self.
“Who is that self?” is a worthwhile question to ask, because emotional turmoil and social rejection can cause us to lose our inner touch – to find ourselves washed up on an alien beach far from what we recognize.
If illness and its symptoms have caused us to misplace our sense of identity, then we might think of reaching outward – to our friends, lovers, family – to re-connect.
Indeed, it is often our social bonds that are first stressed during and following a mental health crisis. This is natural. All people – including those close to us – need to protect themselves, and drifting away is a part of that.
But after this happens, it is important to re-establish those social ties – because they help to define who we are and what makes us good.
So, to rebuild confidence and well-being after a crisis, stick to the small, simple acts of grace and to the people who know and care for you. These, and time, have a surprising healing power.