I keep asking myself when I am going to get better.
Then I find if I shift my question from a medical perspective (“When is this medicine going to fix my problem?”), and look at it from the perspective of a person on her path, the question melts away.
Then, my benevolent witness arises. She notices that all this time, I have continued to be on the path, whether I realized it or not. And she reminds me gently that, no matter how long I continue to look for relief in the external world, I will continue to be myself, and I will continue to be on my path.
This is a thorny and complicated idea for a person with mental illness. It’s a thorny and complicated idea for many of us with a long history of either/or thinking. It involves the idea of acceptance, which is nearly impossible for so many of us. It involves the practice of floating, which is a skill almost no one possesses.
Denise says, make the effort, and then surf. Ride it.
This is essentially what I am doing. I make my effort: in yoga, in therapy, in taking care of myself in the ways that I know I need. And then I ride the effect. It is not just my own effort that I am riding. It’s the Great Energy, the Life Force that I’m riding. Surfing it, riding it, allowing it to work, is the only way to “get better.” It involves surfing out into the great unknown, having no ground beneath my feet, and being open to the possibility of what I find.
This is preferable to my own methods of “fixing” myself, which tend to be quite small-minded. If I make a game plan, I have expectations of what should happen along the way. There’s just no getting around that; it’s what our minds do. We look for results, the grade, a chance to critique our progress so we can decide if we are the most excellent student of [blank] in the universe, or the most pathetic [blank] in the universe. (This whole procedure amuses me when I think of what it really is: flipping the coin of judgment to grasp either grandiosity or self-degradation.)
My goal after my breakdown was to cease self-improvement. This may sound counter-intuitive: If I was broken, didn’t I want to be put back together?
I did not, and I do not. I do not want to be put back together in the same way. I have lived most of my life in repetitive cycles of the same kinds of conflict, of endless boxing rounds with the same opponents. If there was some way to make myself better using my known methods, I would have done it already. But the truth is, nothing has “worked.” So, facing no other choice, I let go of almost everything.
Now, I make my small efforts at health (yoga, therapy, medication, attention to my needs) and float.