By TOM SMITH
As if our lives weren’t damaged enough, and our inside world wasn’t depressed, confused, anxious, manic, and addicted already.
As if we could cope, manage and navigate the world on our own without the meds – our usual friends Risperdal, Prozac, Haldol, and the ever-popular Zoloft – to regulate our moods and our lives since our bodies can’t make that happen by itself.
As if our therapists, families, friends, support groups, guidance, education, and hope were cosmetic electives for a balanced life.
As if we are not isolated enough, even when we’re with people.
As if all of that was not enough, a virus not associated with a computer now attacks us even when we don’t catch it, even while this tiny Godzilla bug stomps through the human race demanding homes in our lungs, or wherever it wants to go.
As if the road to recovery was only an inside job, a matter of personal will power, of the desire for balance, of easy judgment, of changing not only our choices but our ability to choose.
What if, to some degree, everyone is on the mental illness continuum so that everyone is we?
What if we have not yet resolved our need for the meds?
What if our homes and all the people in those homes have not yet discovered a balance secure enough to ward off the anxiety, fear, and grief created by a mental illness or alcohol or drugs, and now fear of that tiny bug joins the chorus singing songs of sorrow, mayhem, fear, rage, and despair?
What if everyone, under the pressure of social distancing and an uncommon wariness in a paralyzing anxiety, relapses into dysfunction just when we had a glimpse of a possible recovery?
What if a loved one is still in the grips of an untreated, unacknowledged, unmanaged depression, with suicidal thoughts, or manic with anxiety, or paranoid about shadows in the home let alone a virus now knocking at the door?
What if normal people wear masks and gloved hands, and lock their doors to keep themselves in more than invaders out?
What if hugs and hand shakes are now soft memories of lost days just when a vigorous embrace best feeds a starving soul and a sagging spirit?
What if we desperately need friends but cannot be with friends?
What if our humanity is fragile, brittle, twisted, but seeking strength, flexibility, and a narrower path?
What if we act as if:
- We had more control over our depression, our addiction, our anxiety, our mania than we think we have?
- We had more trust in our family, our friends, our therapists, ourselves, our network of supporters?
- We were more honest with ourselves, our family, our therapist, our psychiatrist, our sponsor, our God?
- We accept ourselves more completely, acknowledging our value, our gifts, our ability to love more thoroughly, more unconditionally?
- There is more to us than our illness, our addictions, our negativity and we rejoice in our positive personality traits?
- The virus does not control us even if it still hunts and haunts us?
- Others believe in us and value who we are, as we are today and not as we were?
- Our loneliness turns into satisfying solitude?
- We know ourselves well enough to sense when we may be in trouble and we take steps to avoid the danger we sense?
- We believe in a God who loves us and wants us to be happy, fulfilled, satisfied?
- We know that we grow stronger, better, more our true selves, more like we want to be by helping others, sensing and responding to their needs, generous in our service, and humble in our giving?
What happens when all of that happens?
Our demons lose their fire and our angels soothe our flaws. Our place in the world finds the sunsets we deserve. Our families smile and laugh in place of frowns and shouts. Our urges sleep peacefully. Our friendships blossom like spring flowers. And we silently rejoice because we are recovering, finding the person inside who likes living in our body.
Our “as if” and “what if” evolve into what is, and we know that it is good.