“What if you were to write your own Obituary?” It might, I admit, seem a strange thought and indeed a strange title to place on a post in a blog dealing with mental health issues. And I am not, of course, recommending that you do so with any harmful thoughts or plans in mind. In fact I am not even suggesting that you write one for you as a whole person.
Perhaps I should explain…
The new year began, albeit nearly three weeks ago now, with my feeling somewhat fatigued and yet somehow also relatively hopeful.
I had, if I am honest, (and somewhat to my surprise) begun to formulate plans for this coming year. Not by way of a New Year’s resolution you understand. Quite frankly I am not into making these and besides, these plans had started to formulate early December and on into the Christmas period. They were plans to try to grow healthier and stronger in several areas of my life including my mental health.
Then I was hit with a bout of flu. A flu which quite frankly has knocked me for six and which I am still battling with. Flu which also forced me to spend far too long in bed. (Do I hear lots of ‘poor you’ sympathy comments at this point? LOL)
Being in bed so much, of course had a negative impact in some areas as it meant that some of the things that I normally do fell by the wayside for a while. But there can be some positives as well. One such positive for me personally was that I got to watch a few films which I probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise. And one of these films was one called ‘The Last Word’ starring Shirley Maclaine and Amanda Seyfried.
Now I am not going to say very much about the film itself – I don’t want to be accused of putting any spoilers out there. But I will say that it I enjoyed it a lot. It also got me to thinking about Obituaries.
‘Obituaries’. Those statements written about someone when they have died, and which are designed to announce that person’s passing and in some brief way to encapsulate who they were and who (or what) they have left behind.
In truth, I would hate to have to write my own obituary. As those who know me would probably testify, it would either be far too long-winded or simply consist of some snappy humorous one-liner.
But what if we were to write our own obituaries. Not for us as a whole person but for those parts of us – those parts of our mental health or even those parts of our character – that we would dearly love to see leave us?
Following the general format of: Name/Title. Date of Death. Who or what they have left behind or are survived by. How would the obituaries you write for your mental health issues or unwanted character traits read?
Here’s a few examples I have come up with for me:
Announcing the death of ‘MY HARMFUL THOUGHTS AND INTERNAL DIALOGUES’
Died ‘January 19th, 2018’ after an long hard fight lasting most of their (actually MY life).
They are survived by a close companion who is now determined to live a much fuller and happier life.
Or how about:
Announcing the passing of “My Bouts of Apathy”
Passed away on January 19th, 2018.
Known for a dedicated commitment to visiting whenever personal hardships happened or increased, it’s passing leaves behind a determination in me to fight on and to care.
Of course writing an obituary for such things might seem very easy and a pointless task to some. And indeed I fully accept that there are somethings which are to some degree or another beyond our control.
But for me personally the process of making such a list and of writing such obituaries has been very helpful. And the truth is that I am fully convinced that all too often can fall into the trap of not fighting against them enough and of simply accepting their presence in our lives.
And why should we accept them? Why should we give them control without putting up a fight? And yes I fully understand – trust me I really do understand – how tiring and debilitating their presence can be at times. But, since we are discussing obituaries and thus death, I am minded of a very relevant quote.
Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is that which dies inside us while we live.
It is a quote accredited to the American author Norman Cousins and its truth is very relevant to us here, isn’t is?
Whilst writing your list of things you would dearly like to see the back of in respect of your mental health or your current character traits. The things you would dearly love to be able to write ‘an obituary’ for. Why not ask yourself what things have ‘died inside you’ or are dying inside you, or often suffer, as a result of your mental health? And then ask yourself how much better it would be, how much better your life, how much better you would be, if you really did fight harder, took more control or took those positive steps which were recommended to you and which you didn’t have the energy or resolve or enough hope to even try.
Please understand that I am not meaning to suggest that you haven’t been fighting, or haven’t already been battling to improve things. I have read too many blogs and spoken with too many fellow sufferers to even think, let alone suggest such a thing. But I am also aware of how much and how often our hope, our will to fight, can take a battering.
As I said before, I ended last year with a very real determination to grow stronger and healthier – both physically and mentally – this year. And I shared how this year has started with me feeling very fatigued and with me being hit with a bout of flu which has knocked me for six and which I am still battling against. But I am determined to see it as just another knock back and one which will not defeat me nor divert me from my resolve to achieve my goals.
In truth there are areas where I may not be able to fully control the impact of my mental health on my life. But in truth I can and will continue to try to impact that control.
So yes, this year I will be writing obituaries in respect of certain aspects of my mental health. And whilst it might take some time until they actually pass I know that then battle with be worth it and I know that the end result each time will be my being able to make the statement “and is survived by a much healthier and happier person.”