This blog is not FDA approved
I thought I had problems… Problems that would make everyone look at me and think, “gee, you’re right, you’re life sucks… you definitely deserve some kind of medal for making it through all of that.” But what would that accomplish? What would it mean, in the end? The problems wouldn’t be better, my life wouldn’t be any easier to live, and after the two seconds of recognition I’d get, everyone would go back to their own life and forget about mine. And then I’d just be mad because no one cares about me.
The truth of the matter:
A while back, I spent a few weeks sitting in the corner of a psychiatrist’s office. I learned a lot about what I was supposed to learn: the presentation and management of some common psychiatric conditions. What I learned more of, however, is that my life isn’t the only one with problems. Not only that, but my problems are NOTHING compared to the problems that some people face… AND, these people are still out there living their lives, in whatever way they can. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few people who weren’t living their lives the best they could, but there was no pity from the doctor, there was no enabling, there was only one statement of advice: It is what it is.
Some patients are looking for a diagnosis, they are looking for a scapegoat on which to place blame for all the problems in their lives. If you tell me that I have a mental illness, then I have an excuse. Much like my not-so-old attitude, what does that diagnosis accomplish for anyone? So now you have a name for your problem? Now what? Are you just going to sit back and blame all the bad things in your life on your diagnosis? Well I guess you could, and the sad fact is (according to this psychiatrist), many people get stuck in that way of thinking and they never accept the plain old truth: It is what it is.
At first I was frustrated with the number of times this psychiatrist would tell his patients this piece of advice. Sometimes it would come out of his mouth 10 times in a thirty-minute visit. I thought, “Why are you minimizing these people’s problems? Mental illness is a real problem and you’re sitting here telling them to get over it, make some changes?” Over time, however, I began to realize what this doctor was really getting at:
You can’t change it. What you can do is change your attitude, change your outlook, and live your life the best you can in spite of whatever bad things are going on.
And, he’s right.
After each patient’s appointment, we’d close the chart, sip our coffee, share some small talk, and then welcome in the next patient. And despite the different patient and the different complaint, there would be the same piece of advice – each and every time. And at the end of the day, we would go our separate ways to live our separate lives with our own life-altering problems. And all the while, every patient we saw that day would be out living their own lives, with their own problems. There’s nothing I can do to change that. There’s nothing he can do to change that.
So what can I do? Well, the next time I’m feeling sorry for myself because of the circumstances that I face, I can remind myself: It is what it is.
I can feel sorry for myself and get mad that my life isn’t quite the way I want it… Or, I can accept that small piece of advice and get on with living my life the best way I can.