As I have reached my last session of therapy, reflecting upon the last couple of years feels needed. In the past weeks, I have found myself confused. Disorientated at the amount of time that has passed, without me. Where was I? What happened to me?
I am a self-taught illustrator, and after starting comic books, I believed that this was time. I was going to make it as an illustrator, and most importantly, I would get this graphic novel, I had been working on for 3 years, published.
I thought I was days away from success, then weeks, then months. Half of my income was coming from benefits and the rest from a part-time cleaning job. I blindly believed that this cleaning job wasn’t going to last. My talent was going to be enough for me to pierce in my field.
My dreams started to lose their reality
Sometimes the only thing I remember was waking up daydreaming, cleaning an office for two hours and a half, and going home to daydream more. I would write, draw, send billions of emails, but not much came. This dream I had, was slipping through my hands. I was alone because I chose to. I have allowed my mental illness to take over.
The depletion of happiness, joy and motivation was massive. It’s almost as if I have had different lives within two years. My renewed enthusiasm happened from an unexpected place and person. Bob Dylan is a musician I have tried to listen to in the past, but it never worked out.
Music is vitally important to me, it’s an invisible companion, and it is linked to my mental illness, Maladaptive Daydreaming. Our daydreams come alive with music, and in my case, my universe has always turned around musicians.
In high school, I had a Bob Dylan t-shirt, and I wore it proudly, yet I knew nothing, not one single thing about the man. I think it was in March or in April that I decided to give it a last shot. I went through his discography and picked the first album that would attract me. Desire from 1976 seemed to fit.
When the songs started to play and move from one to another, I instantly understood why I had blocked for many years. His music created a new type of stimulation, the realistic one. At that time, my recovery was initiated. So, I was able to see it from a different perspective.
Dylan’s music gave me the proof I needed, the work I had done on myself was working – it was a success. The daydreaming is still there, but it’s not like it used to be. It doesn’t eat me alive. What followed was my determination to change my circumstances for the better. I started writing, drawing, and going out again.
Once depression hits, this envy to create disappears quietly, without warning. No matter how strange this may sound, Bob Dylan motivated me to be an artist again and to also, go to therapy. To create, I had to understand what happened to me.
Something I have totally accepted is that these daydreams of mine were way more important to me than getting my situation sorted. I couldn’t assume what I wanted or who I was because what others were thinking was way more important. Each and every struggle would hit me hard emotionally. I was too afraid to fail, and that’s what was happening, so I took refuge in what I knew.
For a while, I felt as if I never knew what I wanted as if I didn’t know what passion or identity meant. When really, I did, we all do, we just hide it very well. Today, I am studying illustration like I never did before. I understand what this industry is and what it wants to see. This wasn’t something I had spent time searching for in the past. In my daydream world, everything was already achieved. It was nicer to spend time there.
I try not to regret this cycle. It’s getting better today. I understand that my mind can sometimes play tricks to keep me safe. Regretting keeps us stuck somewhere that doesn’t exist anymore. The power of this experience is that we can change and share with those that may be just entering the same type of struggle.
Going to therapy is giving yourself a gift
I used to think that finding oneself was crucial when really, it’s an everlasting process that never stops. Therapy has helped me accept these parts of my existence that were still sketchy. It created an upward trend. Stability is still seemingly out of reach, but I am getting closer, and that’s all that counts. In the past, there was almost an idea of a curse that controlled me. Somebody else, the world, the universe, humanity, was in power – not me.
Gladly, this idea is gone today. If I work hard enough, I should be able to reach some of my goals, or at least I would have tried. Plus, If I don’t do it for me, I’ll do it for my younger self, the one who dreamt really, really, really big.
- See also: 'Living through Psychosis'
- See also: 'My psychiatric condition helped me discover my genderfluidity'
- See also: 'Maladaptive Daydreaming: the underrepresented condition'
I had my last phone session with my therapist on the 1st of December, and what I have learned so far is that it has a remarkable power. This isn’t only about speaking to a therapist, but mostly the act of choosing to go to therapy. It’s giving ourselves a gift. A reward for good work well done.
I have waited for this day in the last couple of years, where I would be able to look back and comprehend that this was worth it. The anxiety of making the same mistakes is there, but it’s a thought and not a fact. I’m only human, and there isn’t something more human than anxiety.