What Ben Has Taught Me

After a difficult few weeks, I have done a lot of reflecting. Often, I am so aware of all the things that Ben negatively brings to my life that I forget the lessons I have learnt. There are parts of my personality; the way I react to things and my viewpoint on subjects that have all been altered by Ben and my struggles with anxiety.

For those who are new to my blog I will recap: Ben is the name I gave to my mental illness a few years ago after reading “The Chimp Paradox: Mind Management” by Prof Steve Peters. It talks about there being a chimp inside your brain who is responsible for the flight or fight reactions. As a way to personify my anxiety as a way to deal with what was happening to me, “Ben” was born.

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I will always want a life free from anxiety, that will never change. It is debilitating and draining. But I am trying to find the positives in a world full of fear and ‘what ifs’.

Ben makes me feel like I’m a burden.

Ben makes me feel like I’m ‘less’ when he’s around: less fun, less desirable, less loveable.

Ben makes me feel like I don’t have control of my own life.

Ben makes me feel alone and trapped inside a mind that won’t let me relax.

I know everyone who cares for me will counteract these thoughts immediately, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t there. And sometimes they are incredibly overwhelming to the point that I do my own head in.

But in equal measures Ben also taught me:

Kindness. Compassion. Integrity. Unconditional love.

Living with a mental illness taught me to go the extra mile to try and understand how someone else is feeling. It taught me to be thoughtful and never forget how important the small things are in showing people that you care. It taught me to love people fiercely, without judgement or expectations. It taught me that I am resilient, strong and determined, despite often questioning my abilities. It taught me to savour the moments of calm and contentment and stop craving anything more. It taught me that despite receiving no support from people, when they are suffering themselves, to only ever be kind. To never allow someone’s past attitude towards my mental illness be the reason that I turn my back when they are struggling.

I am a different person because of Ben, but I am not “less”.

I will only ever be more.

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