I want to get better. That’s my big thing, my obsession. My bookshelf is full of self-help books, my kitchen cupboards are stuffed with herbal remedies and over-hyped “super-foods”, and my walls are covered in motivational posters. I’ve been zealously fighting my broken brain for years, but recently the excitement of potential cures (this new diet, that new meditation) has been replaced with a disappointing realization. There is no “better”. At least, not the kind I’ve been waiting for.
I visited the Douglas Copeland exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery in September of 2014. In the midst of his Slogans for the 21st Century collection, I found my disappointing realization eloquently rephrased and printed on a small canvas. “It doesn’t go away. You just learn how to live with it”. The words stung so badly I lost my breath. Seeing this true statement hanging in an art gallery was like getting a text message from God. I had to stop chasing a magic cure doesn’t exist. I was tired of being let down by holistic doctors who promised that if I just ate more Sauerkraut, everything would be fine. I was sick of counsellors telling me that my diagnosis was bullshit, and that I just needed to visualize good energies flowing through my Chakras. I’d already spent too much time and money trying to get rid of my mental illness. After my visit to the Art Gallery, I knew I needed to stop fighting my brain and start learning how to live with it.
I haven’t given up on getting better. I take the pills prescribed to me, I see a therapist, I try to eat healthy and exercise, and I’d love to start meditating again. But even my psychiatrist warned me before prescribing my medication, “These pills aren’t going to fix you. You have a very long road ahead of you.” I appreciate her honesty. Sometimes I miss believing in a magic cure, but the temporary high of thinking I might get “better” wasn't worth the devastation of never really getting there. I still want to get there. Only now I see “better” not as some far off destination, but as a journey without an end.