Written by: Emily Blair, Director of Operations
Riding home on the L from my karate class this week, Jon Bellion’s song “Maybe IDK” came on shuffle. The song states a variety of “I wonder why statements…”. Here are some that Bellion mentions in the song:
I wonder why I say yes to everyone in my life.
I wonder why I can’t run that fast in my dreams.
I wonder why I miss everyone and I still don’t call.
As I sat listening to the song on the train, I thought about how I would finish those “I wonder why…” statements. The theme of the song touches on questioning why something is the way that it is or why something happened – something we all have probably done. Sitting on the train car, I started to think of my mental health journey and started to finish those “I wonder why” statements in this framework.
I wonder why I still get anxious when I go to karate.
I wonder why I still have difficulty setting boundaries and saying no.
I wonder why my depression still creeps in.
I wonder why I’m not as bold and confident and sure of myself as her.
I wonder why I put up walls when I know vulnerability is so important.
I wonder why I even struggle with anxiety, depression, and body image issues in the first place.
This list could go on and on and on and on. That would be an uplifting post, wouldn’t it?
The truth is, I think that in our journeys’ with mental illness and recovery, we often get bogged down with figuring out everything from A to Z. What is the root cause of my anxiety and depression, what are strategies to saying no, how can I stop comparing myself to other people, etc., etc. We create plans, attend groups, take our medication, and when we still have a panic attack or when we still struggle with that one fear food, our head becomes filled with “I wonder why” statements. This cycle is so dangerous because mental illness will always be an “I wonder why.” I wonder why people have to struggle with it to begin with, so where do we get ourselves if we just keep asking why?
The song is not solely about questioning why certain things are the way that they are. The pre-chorus and chorus say this:
Although I guess if I knew tomorrow
I guess I wouldn’t need faith
I guess if I never fell, I guess I wouldn’t need grace
I guess if I knew His plans, I guess He wouldn’t be God
So maybe I don’t know, maybe I don’t know…
But maybe that’s okay.
I can’t help but sit back and marvel at how true these statements are. Now, I believe in a higher power, a God whose fingerprint is always at work in our lives. In fact, spirituality is a core value of Unpolished Journey. In recognizing this, I think there are some things we may not understand for a long time or possibly never understand in our journey with mental illness and recovery. And if we constantly question why we are still struggling, we’ll be left walking in circles, because, while there may be some behaviors someone is partaking in that are feeding his or her mental illness, the truth of the matter is we will never really know – we’ll never know why he struggles with bulimia or she turns to alcohol or he has manic episodes.
I think of it this way. Say someone gets a cancer diagnosis. The doctor may explain the diagnosis at a scientific level – maybe it was genetic or maybe the individual smoked a lot. But the question is a deeper why. Why that person, that individual, that human being.
And the same goes for mental illness. We will never know why [insert what you struggle with] has to be an issue for us. We may never really uncover the exact root cause of our depression that we are so intent on finding or read enough self-help books to create a perfect, foolproof plan for recovery.
I want to take a moment to say that taking medication, attending groups, reading books, creating coping ahead plans, and everything that you do to help your mental illness is beyond necessary, in the same way that someone with a cancer diagnosis needs to get radiation and chemotherapy or whatever the treatment might be. The point of this post is not to discredit any of those things. The point of this post is to remind us that even while doing those things, we may never fully understand parts of our journey. And that’s okay. If we let these “I wonder why” statements cloud our thoughts, we will never fully experience recovery.
As I see it, Bellion reminds us that without these struggles, without these hardships, we wouldn’t truly appreciate faith and grace and all of the beautiful things that exist in this world. So, while we’ll never fully understand our journey, we can be patient, watch it unfold, and appreciate faith and grace in the process.
P.S. I highly recommend listening to the song. Click here to do so.