Monday, June 14, 2010
Toil. June 14, 2010.
“Difficulties show men what they are. In case of any difficulty remember that God has pitted you against a rough antagonist that you may be a conqueror, and this cannot be without toil.” –Epictetus
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I’m finding that getting well is really hard work. Really, really hard work. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s the hardest thing I ever WILL do.
What is my rough antagonist? Partly, it’s life itself, and all the disappointments and challenges that come with it. Partly, it’s my brain chemistry, which despite medication (and I think, some days, because of it) fluxuates from day to day. Some days I want to cry and I know the reason why; other days I can’t put a finger on a reason, and I can tell myself it’s my bipolar. That doesn’t make me like it, and it doesn’t make it go away.
So Epictetus’ word here, toil, is appropriate. And these are the days I bargain with God. I tell him that if he could just give me something ELSE instead of clinical depression – cancer, maybe, or multiple sclerosis – I wouldn’t complain, because I’d rather have a “real” disease – one that other people can understand or tell me to “snap out of.” Because unless you have a mental illness, you truly have no clue of the work involved in simply trying to function, and it’s easy to be the object of scorn, even by those who love us.
What’s my choice? Again, it’s life or death. I’ve chosen life, so excuse me while I keep working.