I suffer from an anxiety disorder, so some days it hits me like a freight train. There are days I feel myself spiraling downwards, an inevitable corkscrew twist on a rollercoaster of emotions. The kind that makes your stomach churn, makes your mind flood with all kinds of thoughts — mostly dark ones, discouraging ones, debilitating ones — to the point that my behavior is noticeably different. I am more irritable, out of insecurity. I am less warm, the colors are duller, the world seems grey. All the while, I’m sweating and my heart beats as if it’s the drum line of a heavy metal band. I can feel the tremble in my fingers, neurons shooting electrical signals up and down my entire body, reaching my brain and ricocheting. There is no feeling more distinct than the onset of anxiety. On these days, my anxiety is my enemy.
At the same time, on days when it does not envelop me in its darkness, my anxiety is part of me. It does not define me, as mental illness is not the definition of anyone who suffers, but it exists within me. It is an unquestionable piece of my person that I carry with an optimistic heart. It helps me look within myself, question what seems unquestionable in my surroundings, create new meaning behind things that may have none, see vibrant colors in plain darkness. On a day to day basis, a little kick of anxiety helps me be… well, me. The signals shooting through my body are electrifying, a feeling so addicting that no drug can replicate or replace it. I am motivated by my anxiety, I am creative because of my anxiety, I am strong because of my anxiety. It has taught me more about myself than I could’ve learned by other means. It has been my teacher, my friend.
I probably sound crazy. Who actually enjoys having a mental disorder? Who would actually choose to have a mental disorder, rather than taking pharmaceuticals to mask it? In fact, I take pride in the fact that I choose to live with my mental illness rather than rid it with little pills. Sure, the weed helps… a lot. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t choose pressed medicine to grey out my life for anything. I wouldn’t trade my off days for anything. Without my off days, I wouldn’t know how great the rest of my days are. I wouldn’t know how saturated colors are without the days they are faded. I wouldn’t know how many angles there are to look at life without the days when I am fixated on one particular view. I would neglect to question myself, everybody else and everything else.
Like my micro-scale experience, the macro-systems of the universe are dual. Everything is dark and light at once. The yin and yang is a representation of this — the contrasting duality that is existence. There is always darkness in the light, and light in the darkness. There are no absolutes. One cannot exist without the other. It is a balanced system — good and evil, light and dark, sadness and happiness, purity and taintedness. Without one, the other cannot be. Because of this, we must learn to love both parts of our existence. We must learn that the acceptance of one parallels the acceptance of the other. They are bound by a knot, inextricably intertwined forevermore. They are twin flames, in love with one another but toxically hateful of each other.
For this reason, we must find the good in the dark. We must do the work to heal ourselves from our darkness, because there is light to be found. We must love ourselves enough to travel through the darkest depths of our being to experience the beauty of existence and, ultimately, the phenomenon of duality.