“Live every day like it’s your last day on earth.”
“Live in the moment.”
“Carpe Diem: Seize the day.”
“Today’s a brand new day.”
“Try something new every day.”
“You only live once.” [YOLO if you are a parent and don’t know what it stands for.]
“Make today ridiculously amazing.”
“Dance, love, sing, laugh.”
“Live life to the fullest.”
“Make the most of every day.”
Why? Well, practically speaking, it’s impossible. With this mindset, you’d never go to the doctor or dentist. You wouldn’t do school work or turn up to your job. Instead, you’d spend a lot of money eating your favourite meals, buy a one way ticket to somewhere and not plan the accommodation, and dance under the stars on the beach in front of everybody. You’d ignore pneumonia and go swimming. You’d go out to the beach or countryside and wouldn’t bother putting on sunscreen or insect repellant. You’d spend your savings on a bright green supercar. I would get some form of nutrition deficiency if I literally lived every day like my last, as I would probably eat nothing but chocolate and cake. Also I would run out of money and not sleep enough, determined to make the most out of the last few seconds ‘living’.
For people with a mental illness, all of the motivational stuff can be, well, demotivating. Someone with depression can’t simply just be happy or get up at sunrise everyday for a jog. How can someone with an eating disorder enjoy a ‘last’ meal if it fills them with utter terror? Someone with PTSD or anxiety isn’t going to be able to make their day brilliant when they can’t stop a sudden panic attack or control flashbacks.
If you really, really, really wanted to, you could abandon western society and live with a nomadic tribe in the Quimpalotchucka forest on the desert island of Fdiklybobfetttrasdisploo, and worry about more simple things such as food access, shelter and communication barriers. But the reality is we have to take care of our future selves and be somewhat future orientated if we want to live comfortably and sociably, have enough money to eat, and be physically healthy. We arrange meetings in the future to meet up with busy friends and anticipate new movies. We look forward to things tomorrow, we don’t eat the most amazing food every day, we get bored, we don’t make new amazing worldly friends, we procrastinate, and that’s OK.
It is important to be grateful for what you have and appreciate the good moments in life, for sure. It’s great to be happy, and it’s heaps of fun to have an adventure now and then. It’s vital to take care of yourself and do what makes you happy and healthy overall. But life is often full of monotony, grief, stress and hardship… and again, that’s OK.
Because you know what?
You are allowed to be sad, miserable, grumpy and bored. You don’t have to be happy all the time, even if a reason exists that you feel should make you happy.
You don’t have do something fulfilling or intellectual all the time. If you enjoy them, don’t feel guilty for rereading silly romance novels or binge watching rubbish TV dramas.
You are allowed to get up at 3pm if you’re severely depressed and the best you can do is have a shower and get dressed.
You are allowed to be annoyed at public transport delays and traffic. You don’t have to be grateful that it’s better than India or Peru when it’s delayed for 30 minutes because someone vomited in a driver’s face.
It’s OK to not know what you want to do with your life. I don’t either.
You don’t have to get up early every day and work out and eat perfectly all the time.
It’s fine to be a little late or a little early now and then.
You don’t have to get great marks all the time, nor do you have to study everyday.
It’s normal to dread some things, whether it be exams, a fight with a friend, or an appointment.
You don’t have to be perfect. People should accept you and love you for who you are, flaws and all, rough patches and all, baggage and all.
You don’t have to go out every night and meet new people. No one is like the adverts on TV. In real clubs there is no toilet paper left, the girls are underage and the guys are twice your age. Real beaches have rubbish, screaming children and sand gets EVERYWHERE. Real people having drinks at a party aren’t perfectly dressed models and there will always be at least one random person who is creepy and/or throws up everywhere.
What I’m trying to say is: don’t beat yourself up for having a mental illness. Don’t beat yourself up for not being happy. These sicknesses are awful, and get in the way of so much, I know, but it just makes it worse when you feel guilty or ashamed that you can’t change the situation, no matter how hard you try. It’s much better to accept your current reality, as flawed and rubbish as it might be.
Why? So you can try to stop beating yourself up for not being as happy or carefree as you may want to be, so you can stop feeling guilty for not enjoying yourself as much as you think you should, so you can accept that your personal best is not the same as another person who is not hindered by a mental illness.
If you are accepting of your position, something that may seem small can become something for you to be proud of. For instance: Getting up before midday, doing the washing up, and calling a friend. Three things that might take all of the energy out of you, leave you exhausted, but are noteworthy because in your situation, that’s your best. It doesn’t have to be perfect or fantastic or amazing. It can just be small goals. It might be better on some days and worse on others. We have to realise that this is good enough. We don’t have to follow our dreams and work ourselves to the ground everyday. We’re only human. Consistency is good but perfection is impossible.
The only thing you’re not allowed to do is give up. If you accept your situation, that doesn’t mean you stop fighting to get better. It just means you take it easy on yourself when you don’t achieve as much as you may want to. Alright? Alright.
Now go live your day, even if it’s a shitty one.
Take care, see you next Thursday :o)