I like to think I have a pretty imaginative mind. Sometimes that greatly helps my struggle against my symptoms. Today, I’ll give the example of a battle.
I’m a history nerd. I love ancient politics and battles. I’ve read plenty of books on these battles, and I’ve watched YouTube documentaries as well. But what does this have to do with my mental illness symptoms? I use the imagery to prove my victory to me.
Recently, I missed Church twice in a row. I was a bit distressed about this because I was afraid that I would fall into missing Church every week again. Talking with my therapist, I was reminded that I have many, many skills that I can use to fight this. I listed my skills:
- I had an increase in antidepressant recently. I can assume that will make all the difference. It won’t really. It’s still up to me. But saying that the antidepressant will fix it can take away some of my fear that I’ll fail.
- My Church family loves me, and I know that. I often fall into a cycle of shame, feeling that I am judged, but I know that is not the case. I am appreciated and never shunned here.
- I know that if I miss Church, it bothers me all week. I also know that if I go to Church, I am energized for the week. I can use this knowledge to motivate myself to actually go, even when I’m tired.
- If I’m too afraid to spend all that time in Church, I can promise myself that I’ll just walk in the building and appreciate the beauty. Then once I’m there, I can tell myself that I might as well go to confession because my priest has good advice. Then I can convince myself to at least stay until we read the Gospel. I can keep doing this until either I give up and go home, or maybe I’ll stay the whole time. I know myself well enough to know I’d likely stay the whole time, even though I start by saying I’ll only enter the building.
In battles, commanders often sent only some of their troops in at a time. Hopefully the first troops would win the day, but if they didn’t, they had troops in reserve. Depending on the battle, there might be several groups of reserves. If a commander ran out of reserves and was losing, he would have to flee. But if he had more troops, he could keep fighting until he won.
I imagined myself as a commander with many, many troops in reserve. I have an enormous army and even if I lose a few times, I can keep coming back with more skills. My reserve is huge and I will win in the end. This thinking, in itself, became one of my skills, further adding to my abilities.
So what happened?
I went to Church that Sunday and I even served at the altar. I was excited to be well. My Church family was so kind to me and excited to see me, especially since I’d been away for half a month. It was a good day, and then a good week.
I won the battle.