It’s an interesting question, isn’t it?
And I have to be honest here and admit that my immediate reaction to seeing the question was, “Do I actually have any goals? I mean, other than to survive it?”
But the more I thought about it the more I realized that actually I do have a number of goals.
They are just not all collected together and typed out – by way of some sort of mission statement.
And indeed many of them have arisen out of circumstances or events and have almost been subconscious (and even very private) by nature. You know, that kind of “mental note to self” sort of thing. Or the inner resolution that you make when something happens.
And I think that happens doesn’t it? And as a result of this I think that often there is a process involved.
My personal process…
And because of this I am struggling a little in how to actually present them. To put them down on paper. (Well, on a computer screen, at least.)
For so much of my life my biggest goal in respect of my mental health ( as regular readers of this blog – or even this challenge – will probably know) was to hide my mental illnesses.
I was, as regular readers will no doubt know, born at a time when the general attitude to mental illness was so very wrong and so very harmful. And sadly we still have so very far to go on that score.
So I cannot help wondering how many people still have to hide their mental illness at school or college, or in the work place or even within and from their own family?
Then in 1999 when, as a result of major mental and physical breakdowns, all my masks crumbled and I could hide it no more. And at that time, my goal – my objective – became (out of absolute necessity) simply to survive those breakdowns.
Repair and Damage Limitation…
Then came repair and damage limitation. I so desperately needed to repair the damage that had been done (as a result of that breakdown) to my relationships – especially with my wife and son. But also with others.
And with that a very real resolve – a very real goal – to do all I could to limit how much my wife and son had to suffer from my illnesses – both mental and physical.
But sadly, in seeking to protect them from my mental illness I was – without really knowing it – pushing them away. Locking them (and many others) out of that world. And in the process – to some degree or another – locking myself in.
And along with repair and damage limitation there was the question of recovery. Understanding what had happened to me. Assessing the damage that had been done. Trying to prevent it from happening again. Trying to rebuild your life. Trying to establish healthier, firmer foundations from which to go on.
Proactive vs Reactive…
I wonder if you, like me, have noticed the ‘reactive’ nature of this process so far?
Mental illness can do that to you can’t it? Place you into a set of reactive needs which consume your time and stop you from being proactive. And let’s not lose sight of the fact that so many times, the way people – even our loved ones – treat us can force us into a reactive state.
I have moved country. My wife left me. My son – who was only around 15 at the time and who stayed with me in order to look after me – has now moved out and has started his own family. I have changed churches. And of course I have had to react to and to deal with all of that.
But additionally, my understanding of my mental illness(es) has grown. As has my ability to address and deal with both them and with my physical illnesses. I have started to let folk into my life and into my mental and physical illness(es) and have allowed and encouraged myself to reach out beyond them. (And yes I recognize that I still have a long way to go in this.)
Actually a lot has changed (or started to change) as a result of my doing this challenge. The concluding paragraph of yesterday’s challenge post being a very clear and real indication of that.
A ‘good’ day, is any day when I have afforded myself the freedom to be fully loved (even and including by me myself), no matter what my mental illness(es) (or my reactions to it) may throw my way that day. And a ‘bad’ day is any day when I have not.
So my main and initial goal is to always try to afford myself the freedom to be fully loved (even and including by me myself), no matter what my mental (or physical) illness(es) (or my reactions to them) may throw my way.
To be proactive. And not to let those times when I need to be reactive defeat or demoralize me in this.
To continue to let others into my illness(es) and my life, and to encourage and empower myself to reach out beyond them.
To continue in my writing and my drawing and to not only recognize and accept the strengths and gifts that I have, but also the weaknesses and needs that I have. And to do so not in a spirit of defeat but in a spirit of understanding that I (just like everyone else) sometimes need to get and can get that help.
In truth I have many new goals. (Mainly as a result of my doing this challenge and as a result of the conversations and comments that it has generated.) But they can all be included in this one single statement…