Disasters are part of becoming a master.
Your mental health may be a mess, chaotic, or even a disaster. That’s okay. Stop beating yourself up. Keep in mind the quote from David T.S. Wood, “Every master was once a disaster.”
We often think of inspirational quotes as fuel for achieving goals. Those goals might include starting a business, writing a book, or training for a marathon. However, achieving balanced and stable mental health is just as important of a goal.
Bipolar Disorder Symptom Checklist
I’m a Disaster
Most days, I’m still a disaster. I like to write about the positive and good things in life, but things on the inside are often dark and scary.
My love life is such a disaster that I stopped dating altogether. That’s a story best told in another post.
My work life isn’t much better. It would be a massive understatement to say my finances are a mess. My weight is a bit of a chaotic yo-yo.
And my mental health? It may be relatively stable, but it’s far from ideal.
I’m still a disaster. But you know what? That’s okay.
“Every master was once a disaster.”
Everyone Was Once a Disaster
Look at anyone successful in history and before their success you’ll see plenty of disaster. Thomas Edison supposedly said that he failed over 10,000 times before he created the light bulb.
The number “10,000” might be an exaggeration, or it might be right on the money. The point isn’t how many times he failed, it’s that he failed a lot before he was a success.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX program has been marred by a few very public disasters, including rocket explosions. Both Musk and SpaceX have taken significant criticism as a result, but those disasters pale compared to the 80-plus successful launches and the knowledge gained along the way.
Does Musk plan to shut down the space program because of the disasters? No, not at all. He understands that to attain success, you have to learn from the failures.
There are always failures. Usually lots of them.
“Every master was once a disaster.”
Mental Health Disasters
My path to mental health is a line of disasters. The initial struggle to get my bipolar disorder under control took over four years and 30 different medications. In addition, there were four therapists, three psychiatrists, an inpatient hospital stay, and a partridge in a pear tree. Okay, so maybe not the last one.
It was a very rough time for me. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I thought about ending it every single day. Most of those years, I felt survival was impossible.
However, I kept fighting. A small part of me knew, if I could survive each failure and disaster, there would be something good waiting for me at the end.
I was right.
Not only did I learn to live successfully with mental illness, I also discovered I had a physical chronic illness and how to cope with it. Those lessons enabled me to help others face similar challenges.
Disasters Will Come
Living with illness often means our disasters are out of our control. When we go to bed at night, everything may be okay. The next morning may greet us with a very different world.
Those new and unexpected disasters can devastate you, making you feel like giving up. They can also teach you something.
While sometimes health disasters come out of the blue with seemingly no trigger, most of the time you can see a trend or an event that caused things to get worse.
- Maybe you did too much when you needed to rest.
- Maybe you had too much alcohol when you knew it would negatively affect your medication.
- Maybe you spent time around emotional vampires.
Whatever caused the disaster, there’s usually something you can learn from it. That knowledge will help you on your way to becoming a master.
You Will Be a Master
Each disaster we survive teaches us how strong we can be. At the moment, we may feel like there’s no way out, but there always is.
It’s a matter of holding on to hope and pushing forward. It means recognizing that while today you may not have the strength to take a shower and get dressed tomorrow you might.
Even if tomorrow is bad, there will be a day soon when things will be better. That doesn’t mean things will be great, but they will be better than they are right now.
Are you a disaster? Great! Welcome to the club. You will probably be here again, and I’ll be here to welcome you.
Being a disaster can be painful, but it’s not fatal. If you refuse to give up, better days will come.
Celebrate your disasterhood. Own it and acknowledge it. Be the best disaster you can be.
“Every master was once a disaster.” Let it be your mantra.
You may not be a master today, but chances are good you won’t be a disaster tomorrow.
This post originally appeared on Medium on February 8, 2020.