Not Fighting and Giving Up
If I was to tell you that I wasn’t fighting anymore, invariably you’d think I’d given up, wouldn’t you? In any of the copious video games that I play – Civilisation 5, Age of Empires III, that sort of thing – if you stop fighting then you’ve effectively surrendered. To win, you have to defeat the other players; to defeat the other players, you have to fight. If you know the games in question, you could argue that in Age of Empires II, you can win by building a Wonder of the World or capturing all the religious relics and holding them for a set amount of time, but in order to stop the enemy from taking them, guess what…you have to fight!
If you’re like me and you play similar games, you might think it’s a bit odd for someone to say “don’t fight”. Almost controversially, that’s exactly what I’m saying to you now.
It’s a fine line between not fighting and giving up, but it’s an important differentiation that I think needs to be established. After all…it’s your life we’re talking about here!
The Fight of Our Lives
Depression, anxiety, bipolar and other mental health struggles have one thing in common: they’re a battle. Whether it’s pulling yourself out of a dark pit or fighting off a panic attack, or simply getting out of bed in the morning, it’s a fight. The worst part is that fight lasts from the minute we get up to the minute we go to bed, and sometimes even though the night. Every minute of every day, we find ourselves fighting battles in our heads. Regardless of what those battles are, we find ourselves embroiled in them, fighting for control.
It sounds like some kind of epic fantasy story, along the lines of the Wheel of Time or the Lord of the Rings, doesn’t it? (Please tell me you enjoy those!)
With all those waking moments taken up in the fight of our lives, not much thought is given to the concept of not fighting. Whether it’s stigma or whether it’s something more, this idea of not fighting is very much akin to the notion of giving up. Giving up in a mental health battle, as I’m sure you thought when you read those words, means suicide.
Not something we want to consider.
But this notion is wrong.
Picking the Battles to Fight
When I tell you not to fight, I don’t mean give up. Absolutely not! Keep fighting with every breath and ounce of energy that you have. No one deserves to lose that fight. Instead, I’m telling you to pick your battles. Choose when to fight.
My example? It’s comes directly from my journey. See, I’m convinced that my medication isn’t working as well as it should. A lot of people would tell me that my expectations of it are far too high, that I’m thinking it will do more than it actually will. Others will give me that classic line “you’re making a big deal of nothing”. Charming, really! My point, though, is that those notions can make me want to fight what my body is telling me. My body says that the meds aren’t working sufficiently, yet my instinct would be to fight it. Refuse to go to the doctors, that sort of thing.
But where will that get me?
Similarly, there are people who would fight the idea of going on medication in the first place. Others will fight the necessity to take a trip to the doctor – a bit like I did originally – trying to convince themselves that nothing’s wrong. They’ll continue fighting themselves – out of stubbornness or fear or whatever else might be motivating them – and effectively making the problem worse.
It’s all about picking the battles.
Choose Your Battlefield
You are the experts on yourselves, guys. You know what you can do, what you can’t do and so on. With that in mind, pick your battles carefully. Don’t delude yourselves into believing things are fine if they’re not. Try not to get caught up in spats between other mental health sufferers, because those realistically won’t help anyone. If there is a treatment plan devised for you, don’t fight it. Believe me, with only so many spoons to hand, it isn’t worth fighting it. It will save you energy in the long run.
So pick your battles.
You’re not giving up.
You’re not losing.
Instead, you’re being smart. Tactical. Clever.
You’ve got this. More than you might care to believe.
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