I recently read a blog post where the author wanted to go back and be her “old self”, the person that she was before mental illness. That made me think, “Do I want to go back to the ‘old me’, before mental illness?” Thinking about it for a minute, I wondered when that would be. Before I was diagnosed with bipolar and then Generalized Anxiety Disorder and OCD in 2001? Before my stress and anxiety got so bad in 1999 that I was referred to the Employee Assistance Department at my place of employment? The time I was interrupted in a suicide that same year? Before my first mania at the age of 19, while in college? Before my first planned suicide at the age of 13? Before the time I saw a psychologist at the age of 4? The one that I was never taken back to after two appointments? The time I sat on my bed at about the same age and complained to my parents that I was never happy anymore, and that I wish that things were good like they used to be? Was that the “old me?” Age of 4 or under?
Does anyone have an “old me” that was better than, or at least without mental illness, as opposed to their current self? I think so, I know one person who had no idea that she had schizophrenia until it hit while she was in her senior year in college. She has an “old me”. I’ve read many people’s stories on the Internet, stories that say they were doing just fine in life, and then BAM! mental illness. Why don’t I have an old life without mental illness? A time I can look back on fondly? This bothers me somewhat, why was I never able to live a life without mental illness? It seems unfair. But then, mental illness is not fair at all.
I am happy (most of the time) now. I think this is what I get in exchange for not having an “old me.” Something good, a life with less suffering from mental illness than I ever had before I was diagnosed. A life with great family, a life full of things to do. A good life. A “new me.” I like the “new me.”