In the Trenches
I am Ness.
I am 31 years old. I am a journalist. I am a wife, a friend, a sister, a daughter.
I have several chronic illnesses, and I have a mental illness—but I am not these things.
What I am is this and also more than this, for the totality of what I am can’t be described in a few short sentences.
I am tired: tired of hiding things I can’t help and shouldn’t have to be ashamed of; tired of medication and therapy and self-care; and, honestly, so tired of being tired it makes me want to scream.
I am sick of going to talk to a stranger once a week to learn new ways of coping with old things, now that the older coping mechanisms have failed. I am sick of everything impacting everything else, tangled strings going back to childhood and illness and stiff upper lips.
I am over counting spoons and not knowing how I will feel day to day. I am over my emotions and reactions being overblown or underwhelming. I am over the terrifying lows and dizzying highs of my mental illness.
But I am also funny; I am a love of books, and a fierce loyalty to the people I care about. I am video games, getting swole, and makeup. I am painted nails, a black thumb, and, yes, a Sunday school teacher. I am all of this and more.
I am learning to cope with a mental illness, learning all the ways my brain tries to deceive me—and how to deal with the fallout when it succeeds. I am learning to live with my emotions, even the bad ones (especially the bad ones), to identify them but not let them control me. I am not my mental illness, and I am not my emotions, either.
I am deserving of good things, even when I act badly, even when I don’t feel like I am. I am hard on myself, but I am learning to be kinder. (That’s a work in progress.)
I am a work in progress.
I am learning that that is OK.