What does healthy look like? Have you ever wondered that? You could add in whatever word you wanted after the word healthy and I still don’t know that I could answer those questions. What does a healthy _______ (relationship, childhood, friendship, parent,…) look like? I think it is easy to spot unhealthy things outside of ourselves. For example we can look at a relationship where there is an abusive spouse. All of us can see that it is not a healthy relationship but the person being abused would often disagree with you. They know things are rough at times but their relationship is not unhealthy. They are just riding the wave through the rough patch and then it will all be okay.
Another way to look at it is trying to understand how accurate your view of yourself is in reality. If you are crazy do you know you are crazy? Why does it take people who are suffering from depression so long to try and get help? I think that people who are more in-tune with themselves and would have the awareness to know things are wrong are also the people who would know early on that something is wrong and take steps to fix it before it gets to bad. The people who are not in-tune with ourselves cannot see these changes as they occur and so they cannot stop them before they become bigger problems. I do not know where I am on that spectrum. Along time ago I would say that I was easily on the in-tune side. I easily knew when things were not good and could take steps to fix them. Now I am not so sure. I could not tell you what normal is nor could I tell you if I am anywhere near it. So how can you know if something is not right with yourself if you cannot see it within yourself.
This is where it is important to have people in your life close to you. People who know you and would see when something is wrong. I also think you need a spectrum of people. One reason you cannot see it yourself is because it happens slowly over time, which is also why a spouse may not see it either. They are with you so much the small changes over time don’t become noticeable. Yet, if you have a friend you see once a year come and stay with you for a little time, it may seem to them that you have changed drastically. But what if you don’t have anyone? What if your only friend is yourself? How then do you know when you are slipping off a cliff? How do you know when things are not right? The one way I have found is staring right at you. Writing or journaling, or just finding a way to express yourself. Then as you look back you may see the changes or the differences. I know I can look back to when I started writing 11 months ago and how different things were. How far I have come since then. While I can see the progress I have made, I know the path ahead is so much longer even though I really don’t know the destination or end goal.
So where I am going with all this? I think I started with what does healthy look like? Obviously it is going to look different for everyone and every person can handle a different level of difficulties and still be healthy. It is not any one thing but a myriad of actions, feelings, conversations, relationships,…. While it might not be clear-cut as to what healthy looks like, it is pretty easy to see what unhealthy looks like.
Withdrawal is one of the big signs that something is wrong. I used to laugh at this idea. Why would someone who is struggling with life stop doing the one thing that makes their life a little brighter? It just did not make sense. It still does not make sense but I can tell you that it is real. You just feel like the effort is not worth the reward. You would rather stay home, stay inside, stay safe, than go out and do what you love. It is just too draining. I used to be extremely active in the things that brought me the most joy, now, I hardly participate. I find more reasons not to do them than I do to do them. And I cannot see it changing anytime soon. To me the future is just a cloudy grey pluff and doing those activities just adds to the greyness.
The withdrawal may also be from relationships. I have never had many friends and none that were really close, tell all, type friends. The few friends I did have I really valued, but in my journey I have pulled away from all of them. I have removed myself from their world in hopes that I slide out of existence. I want to become that person they look at in old photos and think “I wonder what ever happened to him?”. Once they are gone I do not work to get them back. I know this. I know that my pool of friends will always be small and getting back with the old friends is just another reminder of my past, of the place I am trying to leave. Instead, I am trying to not look back. I am trying to focus on the things in front of me. The people and things with which I can deal with during this journey.
I think by doing this I am trying to define my new healthy. I am working towards the person I need to become, the person whom I can live with, the person who can live in my life. I am not that person yet. Hell, I may never be that person but at least I have a general direction to which to move towards. A vague idea of what healthy might be and I can try it on and see if it fits. I think that this is a stage that many people go through. Call it a midlife crisis, call it a moment of insanity, call it a change in the direction of my life, all I know is that the place I am now is not healthy and I am finally working towards a place that has a chance of being healthy. I have a chance to possibly become myself instead of the person watching from the back of my head.