Grieving The Loss of Your Old Self (OPINION)

I never thought at the age of 31, I’d be thinking about the good old days. I imagine people’s standard memories of the good old days are those of when they had more freedom. Remember that time in university when Logan got so wasted he fell asleep in a grocery cart? Look at him now! A kid on the way!

Mine? Well, not so different. I yearn for freedoms, but more along the lines of remember when I could sit/stand longer than 30 minutes? Remember when I could walk down that street? Remember when a simple outing wouldn’t knock me out for 72-hours? Remember when I didn’t have random bursts of panic? Remember when I didn’t always need to be by a toilet? Remember when I could run? Remember when I was strong in university?

I’m finding myself in a state of grief of my old self that only a few out there understand, and it’s hard to talk about this with the people in my life who are “healthy”. It’s something that’s hasn’t really been brought to the forefront in my all of this journey thus far. I’m not sure how to approach the subject, and I think it a stumbling block on my own progress.

Each day my brain runs through scenarios of things I want to do, things I should be able to do. I’m in my early 30’s, and without comparing myself to others, I had a base idea of where I wanted to be at this point in my life. No one could predict all of this was going to happen. With all these curve-balls, I think up ways to work around these new barriers. I’m not my pain, my mental illness doesn’t define who I am.

Then, the moment I get out of bed with this I can do anything attitude, it quickly drops. Some days, I’m lucky if I complete my AM breakfast regime. I then have to make choices for that day, pushing those goals I had for myself further and further away.

This grief feels different than your stereotypical stages of grief I’ve heard about. It feels each day fluctuates, never really reaching some sort of acceptance. Maybe it’s due to constant daily reminders of what I once was. Yes, I’m still outside walking, but now it’s with my mid-60’s mum and not running alongside people my age like those who just whooshed passed. Or going to the pool, and instead of swimming lengths, I’m focusing on movement while listening to a good handful of 70/80-year-old somethings go on about trivial gossip. Or the three (at minimum) medical appointments a week while watching that family play in the park outside the window, laughing and smiling.

Selfish? Yes of course. But it’s arrows directed right at the esteem. Arrows of my own making that I don’t know when or how to stop.

I do radically accept that things are different, and by grieving my old self I hope that some sort of true acceptance will come. Why can’t my logic brain and these ambitions meet in the middle? When will things click?

Work on finding how your self-resilience demonstrates in other aspects in your life. It’s like you have blinders on to how determined you’ve in every other aspect of life. What you’ve been doing all this time, that’s no easy feat.

Every single day for the past two weeks, I’ve been writing down how I demonstrate being strong-willed in other aspects of my life. My brain is still stuck in so what, it’s not reflecting in this aspect. How do I push it that direction? Maybe I still need more time, maybe I need to change my aspirations.

I want to bank on time, but hanging on to ambitions might be the linchpin. I’ve heard of let go of what no longer serves you. That’s terrifying: what do I have left? That old black-and-white thinking approach can set me back. Maybe I only have to loosen my grip.

As mopey as all this reads, I believe the fact that I’ve taken the time to acknowledge the above is a big step in recovery. Within this is hope. I’m seeing the changes in front of me, able to identify what I think my core is telling me I’m missing. All that can come from this point is searching for that middle.

Hey old me. You still there? New me needs some direction. If you’re still out there, please send me a compass.

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