Learning to Embrace Uncertainty & Release Control
This is the second post in my series called Lessons Learned Through Mental Illness. If you missed the first post, you can read it here: Lessons Learned Through Mental Illness: #1: Self Worth. Today I’ll be talking about the lesson I have learned through mental illness about control.
The Illusion of Control
Those who know me well know that I have a Type A personality. I love to have a plan. I love to have all the steps figured out ahead of time, I love to be in control, and I hate surprises. I am also an Enneagram Type 3: The Achiever: The Success-Oriented, Pragmatic Type: Adaptable, Excelling, Driven, and Image-Conscious. I think a lot of this is just the way my personality is wired, ad some of it is learned behavior to help me manage anxiety and uncertainty. Being “in control” adds a sense of security.
The illusion that I was in control of my life was ripped away for good in 2018. Jeff and I were living in New Jersey and were expecting our first baby. Everything in my life was going according to plan…until it wasn’t.
As I mentioned earlier, my life and priorities used to be a lot different. I was living for achievement and success (classic Type 3). I had isolated myself from many people to focus on myself. I also struggled with a lot of anxiety worked hard to maintain control over my life, and strove tirelessly for perfection.
As I mentioned previously, in the summer of 2018 Jeff had his first major depressive episode which landed him in the hospital multiple times. He was originally diagnosed with Major Depression and PTSD and more recently received a new diagnosis of Bipolar Type 2 (Bipolar Depression).
Thrust Into a New Reality
Life as I knew it would never be the same. I was suddenly thrust into a new reality that I never expected and had no idea how to handle. In the past, when things didn’t go according to plan, I would just work harder until everything worked out in my favor. This situation was different.
No matter what I did, I couldn’t take Jeff’s depression away. This was something that was completely outside of my control. All I could do was try my best to support him, while also focusing on making sure I was taking care of myself (and our baby whom I was still pregnant with).
At one point when Jeff was in the hospital, I went to talk to his therapist to learn how I could support him and also take care of myself. There was a moment where I was crying and feeling desperate and began to ask questions such as: What if Jeff never gets better? How will I raise this baby? I felt like it was my responsibility to make Jeff better…Like it was my job to “fix” his depression.
The therapist paused for a moment and said “Sometimes there are things in our lives we don’t have control of, and we need to give the control over to God”. Then it was like a lightbulb went off in my head. It was like a moment of remembering something that I had forgotten. Something that I once knew but tucked away deep inside of myself. She was right. It was not my responsibility to heal Jeff. Only God could do that. This is when I learned to give control over to God. I was never meant to carry the burden; it was silly of me to even try.
In this case, God sent Jeff and me into the storm of mental illness to make us stronger, to straighten out our priorities, to strengthen our relationship with each other, and to teach us what was really important in life. Looking back, it is clear to me that all of this happened for a reason, and it was to teach me that I am not in control of my life, He is.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.Romans 8:28
Through all of this, I have learned that there are many things in my life that I cannot control, but I will not fear because God has a plan and works all things out for good.
Since I learned this lesson, things have not always been smooth. Jeff has still struggled with his illness and we have had great times and difficult times.
Through all of this, I am able to maintain peace, composure, and confidence because I know that God is in control and everything will work out according to His plan.
There is more to this story and I’ll be sharing more in future blog posts.
If you felt like you could relate to this story or found this post was helpful, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are struggling with your mental health, help is available. Check out the Mental Health Resources page for additional mental health education and resources.
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