The image in the mirror is distorted. I can vaguely make out that the reflection before me is, in fact, me. I have changed in many ways since I began psychotherapy four years ago. The creature that only went to session as a means of placating her husband has grown into one that actively seeks ways to better herself. What started as a journey to understand one’s depression turned into much more, and the bigger picture had to be revealed for any progress on any front (intrapersonal or interpersonal) to be had. All of that said, there are demons that cannot be shaken and all progress is relative. The only cure-all is the realization that the individual can ultimately create change. All of us have the capacity to change, though it would be a lie to state that we can expect total change in any form.
My interpersonal relationships are still shaky. I am a turbulent being, with my own Borderline and Bipolar-fueled twists and turns, and with every change in altitude, those around me secure their belts to make sure they aren’t forcibly ejected. These days, I take responsibility for my own interpersonal struggles, even if I know that my alignment will cause succumb to gravity more often than I’d like. I am still learning to define what I require and desire in my interpersonal relationships as well as to define those boundaries that must exist to keep all parties safe. The fact that I consider either of those items at all is a great departure from the person that lived for nearly thirty years in abject chaos. Controlled chaos drives me these days as I still am torn apart by the often contradictory forces that make up my personality.
Intrapersonally, I am still destructive, though less so than I once was. To many, I would still appear to live in the eye of the storm. Debt continues to mount as my impulsivity drives me to the lavish and absurd. I still succumb to tired coping “strategies” to combat the ups and downs and ins and outs of Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. That said, I have not turned to physical self-harm in over a year now and desire to drink has faded completely. I can list plenty of adjectives to describe my past: alcoholic, necrotic, chaotic, dangerous, irresponsible, destructive, toxic, et cetera. The fact that fewer of these adjectives stick around as the days go on is something to celebrate. I still adjust to the fact that the person I was four years ago and the person I am now have a faint resemblance, but that I am much more in control these days.
I wanted this, but I want more. Maybe I’ll never truly be happy and I’ll remain permanently stuck in nihilism, but at least I will not be piling on the sins of tortured intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships. Being realistic is a worthy and admirable goal for those whom suffer from mental illness. However, we cannot overcorrect to the point that we believe that no progress can be made. As long as I draw breath, I am the same person that I always have been. As long as I draw breath, I can be a different person than I was before. Will I ever be without flaw? No. I’m not sure I would want to be flawless anyway, but I hope to continue to see the figure in the mirror distort and change more as the days go on. As needed, I will fog the mirror with my breath just to make sure that what I see, no matter how distorted, is a reflection of this still-breathing body, allowing me to honor past, present, and future.