Monday, May 4, 2015

An Illusion of Balance

Balancing life is a struggle enough when everything is going well. Life is, after all, a way of shifting priorities back and forth as things become emergent & pressing, then shallower and faded.

But life with mental illness lacks the possibility of balance. This is a bold statement but, in my experience, there is no possibility of identifying priorities when the hairs on your arm stand up at every decision, when your heart is wrung out at the chance, just the chance, that the fallout will collapse the world. Every tingled sense of heightened anxiety magnified by the deep shame of paralysis, of failing to see the logical sense stopped there in its tracks. 

There is a psychological and sociological belief in the power of fight or flight. That, instinctually, humans tailor their behaviours to maximize their well-being and survival. That somewhere hidden in the crevices of our common pool, there exists a fundamental ability to save ourselves. 

I like to believe this is true, even as I tumble headlong through behaviours and mind sets that are antithetical to keeping afloat. I have to believe it, somewhere inside of me, even if I can't recognize it in any of its manifestations. 

Every moment I spend feels wasted on the here and the now. There is always something else that I feel I ought to be doing instead. Yet, here I am. And why does the guilt of this moment, this momentary priority of sorting and rummaging through my psyche, feel unworthy? Whose judgement thunders so?

It is an illusion, balance is. There isn't a place in mental illness where a wholesome side of family (with its own predilections) holds court with work (and its circus worth ring about) in perfect synchronicity. I can't even sell it as a possibility for anyone who doesn't suffer from mental illness, nevermind someone whose brain chemistry might be failing them at every turn. 

Yet we spend billions of financial moments and devote countless dollars of time to this striving. And to what end? 

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