“…It’s the start of us, waking up, come on
Are you ready? I’ll be ready
I don’t want control, I want to let go…”
After hearing Pink’s song “What About Us” recently, this excerpt stood out to me. I feel like it describes recovery perfectly. In all honesty, until I joined mental health communities I didn’t really consider what I was experiencing on my mental health journey as “recovery”.
I naively associated the word with addictions or accidents/injuries. Now I am seeing that what I go through with my mental health can absolutely be considered as recovery.
At the beginning of my mental health experience I knew I needed to ask for help and I did, but that didn’t make the process easy. I basically broke down time and time again, until I fell far enough for me to get tired of my own shit—but I was ready. I wanted more and I wanted better for myself.
Recovery hurts in the beginning and sometimes (most of the time) along the way. I had to face all of the things in myself that I didn’t like or wasn’t proud of. I had to face all the emotion and memories I had buried for so long.
I uncovered the lies and old beliefs I had about myself and my life. I felt like I was “waking up” and finding my truth- which was amazing but also scary.
Every day I am fighting a battle within my own mind. I am fighting to not give in to my anxiety, depression, and the lies they constantly tell me.
I have to use the tools I have learned to help me better manage those things and be as conscious as possible. Now, more than ever I am realizing that recovery is most certainly not linear.
Over the past year I have been really proud of myself. I stopped counseling (my counselor had moved to a different location and I had made a lot of progress but didn’t want to start over with a new person), became a Worth Living ambassador, participated in different mental health platforms (I Am Project Community post and audio interview) created my own blog, started my mental health Instagram account (mindful___wellness), began collaborating with other mental health advocates and have been completely open about my experiences.
I have been finding what works for me and helps me to cope. I started utilizing everything I have learned to really try to not let my mental illnesses get the best of me.
This past summer I found myself becoming more anxious. Especially when I found out I have Syringomyelia, a disease that affects my spinal cord. I have two small cysts in my spinal cord that are giving me an array of symptoms.
I felt like I had a decent handle on my emotions and anxiety while I was waiting for results of multiple MRI’s, but once I found out I had an additional syrinx (cyst) my mind went on auto pilot to the worst case scenario.
This of course, caused my body to respond as if that scenario was actually happening. I tried to be mindful, to take deep breathes, distract myself, think positively, remind myself that I didn’t know the actual size yet. None of that worked and by the end of the day I was exhausted.
I couldn’t believe that I had let the “unknown” get the best of me again and send me over into a panic attack (or multiple ones).
There was another time this summer where I felt like I had made a mistake and was really hard on myself. My inner critic, Regina (as in Regina Phalange—for any of you Friends fans–humor is one of my favorite coping mechanisms), was beating me down daily and I couldn’t shake it.
I felt like I had been doing so well and making many positive changes but I couldn’t let myself off the hook or be kind to myself.
That’s when I knew I should reach out to my counselor. Luckily, I had recently requested a referral to her when I found out about the Syringomyelia. I called her office and was actually able to speak to her.
She told me I was focusing on the wrong things and not giving myself enough credit for how far I have come and we scheduled an appointment.
There are days where I feel like I “relapse” and days where I really wish I could just “let go” and not be worrying or constantly in my head.
I am learning that the most important thing you can do for yourself when you feel like you are taking 10 steps backward or falling back on your face is to be KIND to yourself.
Take a deep breath and remember how far you have come. Recovery doesn’t happen in a straight line, there will be times when you fall short or veer off track ans that is OKAY.
Keep perspective, cry if you need to, but then let it go. Forgive yourself and keep one foot in front of the other to move forward.
You are a rock star for trying and the progress you are making!