Jane's Mental Health Source Page

One of the Web's Oldest Personal Mental Health Sites [Est. 1998]

I’m Here to Remind You that You Are Not Your Illness

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Medically speaking, I’m “in remission” from clinical depression. When I get the blues now, the blue mood does not expand and darken into the sinister depression that left me functionally crippled (albeit still highly functioning) for many years. For a while, I struggled with keeping up this website. I used to see this website as a constant reminder of the pain I experienced from depression and emotional abuse. Who would want a constant reminder of these? Moreover, I wondered if keeping this website would be akin to “holding onto my past” instead of “letting go of my past so I can get on with my life.”

I have gone through relationship “crises” with this website, and it’s sort of like parent-child relationship, although I can’t be sure whether I was the parent or the child. At times I hold it in gratitude, for this held a record of the shadows in which I lived for a long time, and a record of my emergence from those shadows. At times I rebelled against it, for I did not like the reminder of the shadows when life seems to be going so well and when I was supposed to be “out there setting big hairy audacious goals for myself.”

I took a few more years to understand why this website is still here, and why I still have work to do through this website. A major part of my understanding comes from Joseph Campbell’s book, Power of Myth, and what Campbell wrote about the Hero’s Journey. The hero can go out in search of adventure, or as many myths go, the hero gets thrown into an adventure that he didn’t sign up for. The hero would slay the figurative dragon or discover the figurative life-sustaining flame. However, the hero’s quest is not complete until he returns to the village and brings back the what he has earned to share with his people.

Dr. Hal writes about root-bound people who have lived so long in their pots that their growth have been restricted. Dr. Hal related his experience of trying to transplant trees whose roots have become so attached that the trees could not survive a change, and the trees ultimately had to be discarded.

I see myself as an ex-root-bound person who had a very colorful and very large pot within which I had spent decades of my life. This pot had both organic and synthetic substrates that my emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual grew from. At some point, my roots were becoming poisoned with what was in this pot, which incidentally had very poor drainage and was kept in too much shade (and I was not a shady plant).

I spent years getting out of that pot. Right now I’m not sure if I still have some roots in that pot, or whether my roots are still mostly in that pot, but that no longer matters to me. What matters is that I have seen beyond the pot, and what is possible. I also have learned that my roots may be shaped from what was in the pot, but I was not “the pot.”

It can be very scary to leave a pot that you have known for years – if not all – of your life. It would be ridiculous for me to say that I premeditated an adventure to leave the pot. I wasn’t even an accidental “hero”; I was the “reluctant hero” who had to leave the pot because if I didn’t, my roots would rot to the point where I would die.

severed Once I left the pot, I experienced additional options that I was unaware of when I was in the pot. I also had an additional frame of reference, a new way of understanding who I was and how I saw myself. I had to give up habits and thought patterns that I was very comfortable with, but quite destructive to enjoying life. I had to learn to enjoy life and accept that I was deserving of such. I’m still learning.

You want to leave the pot, but you don’t know what is beyond the pot and whether there is even life outside of the pot, never mind how miserable life was inside the pot. This website is still here, and I still write here, for those of you who know that your pot has grown stuffy or sick.

I’m here to show you that there are options beyond the pot.
That there is what you make of your self outside the pot.
And that you are not your pot.

Written by Jane Chin

November 6th, 2008 at 11:28 am