My mom used to be in counselling for her various mental illnesses and she would bring back bits of wisdom that I still use today. One of these was about taking control over the direction of your thoughts. The shrink said my mom should visualize herself in a taxi (this was before Lyft and Uber) and acknowledge that the driver could only take her to where my mom requested the driver to take her. And if the driver ended up driving my mom somewhere she didn’t want to go, she could have the driver change direction and take her somewhere else. This, to me, is a perfect example of how mentally stable people misunderstand mentally ill people.
I agree that we have a certain level of control over our thoughts. There was a time in my life when I purposely dwelled on the bad that that had happened to me in my life, constantly listing off reasons why I shouldn’t trust people or even get attached. After my mom died, these thoughts were like sunlight on a bad sunburn, and in order to not go completely insane, I had to learn to change the direction of my thoughts. I had to learn how to be in the moment, to focus on things that were pretty or nice or just not completely horrible.
On the other hand, someone told me a story today about an Uber driver who raped a passenger. And that’s the thing — we don’t have complete control over anything. A driver is SUPPOSED to get us to our destination safe and sound, but that’s not what always happens.
And living with a mental illness is like having a psychotic Uber driver in your head all the time, constantly driving you to remember the worst things people have ever said or done to you, the worst things you’ve ever done. And it doesn’t matter how many times you re-set the destination, you just end up in one bad memory after another. When you’re mentally ill, life is often one giant nightmare that never ends.