The ability to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions. To rise above obstacles that can sink you down beneath the surface. To embody strength when the oxygen in your lungs is waning. To withstand a trudging storm that pounds fierce winds and rains into your face. To receive a swift kick to your stomach and still walk away to tell about it.
Every single person has this ability, if we only choose to believe we do. Our minds are so powerful, perceiving our circumstances and electrifying our limbs when we must fly or fight. However, making the choice of resilience is not easy. At times, it’s the hardest decision to ever make.
It’s a decision we don’t ever plan on making. I’ve gone through my fair share of moments that required great resilience. The past two weeks are one of many times when I must decide, do I cower? Roll into a ball and fall into a self-loathing abyss? Or do I find that silver lining to keep moving forward? It could easily go either way.
My blog has been getting lots of traffic lately. In a normal case, I would be stoked to see these high numbers of readers rolling in, but this isn’t a normal case. The readers are coming from web stories that have amplified one flaw into an entire fiasco, one that I would like to just leave behind but cannot quite shake off. People who know absolutely nothing about me, trying to email and call me. Random Twitter users making comments and judging my entire existence, blaming me for societal problems far beyond myself.
Criticism is inevitable when you put your honest self into the world. This blog alone is a conscious choice to detail the ups and downs of my life in hopes of reaching out to others and making some sort of difference. Trying to work in a career inevitably forcing your name into the public sphere leads to criticism. Making one mistake can become so much more when outside voices become involved and nobody does anything to prevent a viral-type spread.
If this situation were to have happened even a year ago, I don’t know how I would have reacted. I don’t know what my mindset might have became, knowing I would turn to the dark crevices and let them completely envelope me and numb everything. I’m used to reacting to conflict by avoiding it like the plague.
And I’m not saying I haven’t considered it and haven’t somewhat done that. It’s an instinct for me, just another reason to take my usual middle-ground mood into unsafe territory. I’ve definitely still panicked, assuming the absolute worst. But my perspective this time has another voice speaking up for myself, telling me that for every time I’ve faced a difficult obstacle, a time I tripped over my own feet or got smacked in the face by reality, I survived. I’m alive to tell about it. I may have forced myself through some bad funks, some as long as several months, but every time, I ended up on the other side.
Rather than assume the loathing and pity and sense of complete failure, I see this an opportunity. I can gain greater empathy for those who may face a similar situation, dealing with any sort of wave online from complete strangers ganging up on them. I am reminded of how truly blessed I am with the wonderful loved ones who have stuck by my side through some of my worst times. I have the experience of this to reflect upon and launch myself toward what lies ahead. It’s not like I can change anything. Choosing to become passive and sink into depression will only create more problems for myself, so why not opt for some potential solutions instead?
Mental illness calls for resilience. It’s an unsaid side effect of depression, anxiety, and every other mental illness, a medication that requires no prescription. When every day is in of itself a mental battle, emotions and personas waging war only you can fully acknowledge and understand, the only way to lead some sense of a normal, functioning life is to develop resilience. You must build up the emotional stamina not only for the everyday occurrences, but also the individual mood shifts.
When a carpet is slipped out from under us and we lie face-down on the rigid pavement, we have a choice that is entirely up to us. We can remain stagnant and wait indefinitely for the carpet to return and for things to readjust, or we can rise from our position, perhaps stumble a little trying to find our balance, but we stand tall and take steps forward. Yes, you’ll probably have some cuts and bruises that will need to heal, but time and perseverance are some of the best healers.
So yes, I’ve faced rough patches. Life is a quilt knitted together with rough patches. But I know there are so many other patches, ones that are soft and colorful and comforting, that keep me going. This too shall pass, and the best is yet to come. No number of stumbles and difficulties can convince me otherwise. Everything has a tendency to balance itself out, but it takes resilience to reach that point and become a stronger person in the end.
Google can define resilience however it likes. But ultimately, it’s meaning is up to each of us. How do we want to lead our lives? As passive audience members or active participants? People who cautiously avoid risks or who take opportunities that may result in failure, but also growth?
A full life, with or without mental illness, is one full of mistakes, full of pain, full of hardships…and full of joy, full of growth, full of beauty. To see where this crazy path leads me, I’m willing to take that risk. I know I can bounce back. I know everything is temporary. I know I’m worth believing in. And I know, with all of the blessings surrounding me, I can persevere.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie