** Please note, self-harm is talked about a little in this post **
The recovery journey
I’ve said so many times that the mental health recovery is a journey. I even touched a bit on it in yesterday’s post alongside a brief bit on depression and how it feels. I even, in a much earlier post mentioned little steps that I am taking with my recovery in mind.
Recovery from any form of mental illness takes work. It takes patience, persistence and time. There are going to be ups, there are going to be downs, there are going to be setbacks… but in time there will be progress. Progress will happen and even if it’s not obvious to yourself, it will be to others. If you are committed, you will eventually see a change.
Now, let’s look at me for example. When I broke down back in July, I was adamant that I would hurt myself. I was acting on my urges on a fortnightly/weekly fashion at worst. I had for ages. Now, whilst I’m not magically cured. I still think about harming myself. I still have the urges and that incessant need to do something. I haven’t… well, I haven’t done anything major in about a month.
Personally, I haven’t and still cannot see that as progress. I can’t see a reason to celebrate or warrant being proud of this. However, my husband, housemate and CPN can. They do keep reminding me of this. So, in reality, there is progress to others but to me, it’s nothing. Even while writing this, I’m not 100% sold on that being progress. I am warming up because I had one slip up with actual medication but that was controlled for me. That was very minor. That’s where I see the progress in my mind.
Recovery isn’t straightforward. It’s no straight line for a to b. It should be seen as a journey and not a destination as in reality, there is no actual ‘normal’. Everybody has their own quirks and behaviours so how can there be a dead set form of a ‘normal’ person? Hopefully, that makes sense to you. It kind of does to me. There’s going to be ups, there’s going to be downs. Think of it as a roller coaster ride or climbing a mountain.
When you climb a mountain, you get up a big steep bit thinking it’s over then *boom* there’s a dip then another big steep bit to go up. Sometimes you’ll get a nice flat calm bit in between. It’s just like the roller coaster idea as a roller coaster has its high climbing bits but then shots down to go up and sometimes even plateaus. It’s a journey of high’s, low’s and even some middle ground.
It’s a journey of:
- finding healthy ways of coping with your mental health issues.
- learning new ways to overcome challenges that you may overcome.
- overcoming stressors/events that happened to bring you to where you are now.
- learning to appreciate yourself for who you are.
- finding yourself again amongst so many more things.
Some other things that can benefit/enhance your recovery (which may get their own post from me soon) are:
- helpful environments
- financial security
- being listened to and understood
- having explanations for struggles and stresses
- a good support system
- access to a variety of support opportunities
- ….& so much more
Another important factor that I didn’t add to this list is personal growth and being proactive in your own recovery!
I know it sounds like a crazy concept when you’re feeling rotten and broken and unable to do anything but believe me. Any small step like the ones I mentioned before, or even finding something different will make a big difference to your recovery.
I know I keep saying this but before this blog, I’d never have written so positively about my experiences, thoughts or even feelings. I’d have never had this positive spin on my own struggles and recovery. Starting this blog has been a pretty good helping factor for my recovery. By no means am I magically cured. I’m sure yesterday’s real talk post kind of pointed that out that I still struggle and I still have setbacks but this… this has been a good helping factor that I have done by myself.
It’s for myself and for you guys who read this who need this support from someone who gets it. Someone who completely gets how you feel when you don’t see a point to doing something. However, stick with me on this one… try to find something that you can do, something you’re passionate about or even something new to do. It can help. Proof of it being kind of true is that you’re reading this right now. It doesn’t have to be big, it can be as small an intricate as origami if that helps you!
Again, don’t force yourself to start running marathons or anything if you don’t feel like you can do that. Maybe try baking a cake again if you liked baking before or are binge-watching baking YouTube videos/shows. Yep, I see you sat there watching bake-off on YouTube, why not give it a go? You may be the next master baker and showcasing your own quirky designs on a blog/channel of your own! If not and they’re a fail then… you get to eat cake! Win-win I’d say! Just start small and maybe you’ll find a passion that will help your recovery.
When I say be proactive, I mean try and find things that you can do, even if they’re small things. I mean it’s pick up a self-help book or something and start to have a read through because some of them are absolutely amazing and so down to earth. (I do list some on this page that I’ve read and loved and can’t recommend enough!)
Being proactive is even maybe making lists of things you need to discuss with your therapist. Keeping a journal of your thoughts, be it a bullet journal or a regular one… It’s still you recording your feelings each day. It’s also about saying yes to doing some things, it’s about reaching out to others when you’re in need. It’s basically educating yourself and keeping yourself in check. Heck, even redecorate/move around your room/house! It’s something for you done by you!
Now, looking at the whole idea of the recovery journey mental health america puts this out in such a clear and concise way as you can see below.
“Recovering from mental illness includes not only getting better, but achieving a full and satisfying life. Many people affirm that their journey to recovery has not been a straight, steady road. Rather there are ups and downs, new discoveries and setbacks. Over time, it is possible to look back and see, despite the halting progress and discouragements, how far we have really come. Each time we reach such a milestone, we see that we have recovered a piece of our lives and we draw new strength from it. The journey to full recovery takes time, but positive changes can happen all along the way.”
further down the page, they state this:
“Being told that you have a mental illness is not the end of the world. With help and support, you can recover and achieve your life’s ambitions. Of course, you will face many challenges as you begin your treatment, but there is hope. Mental illnesses are manageable. And there are a number of things you can do for yourself after a diagnosis to cope with the news, keep up with your treatment, and support your own recovery.”
The message is clear. It’s not the end of the world to be diagnosed with a mental illness. You can recover. You need the hope, support and persistence with your recovery and you will get there. You will not be alone in the recovery like you are not alone in having this illness.
With hope, determination, the correct support systems and you being proactive in this recovery you will get there. You can regain that life back. You can regain yourself! You are not your illness, it doesn’t define who you are. You will overcome this in time.
Another quote that I’ve found and I absolutely adore from ourhealthyminds.com is below:
“Recovery is not a cure. It is a journey. There is no timeline. It is living life to the fullest despite challenges.”
Scottish recovery even put the notion of recovery in a beautiful way as shown below:
The Scottish Recovery Network usefully define recovery as “..being able to live a good life, as defined by the person, with or without symptoms” stating the value in having control over and input into your own life and that each individual’s recovery is a “..unique and individual experience.”
My own recovery
So, as I stated before. I’ve taken a number of steps with my own recovery such as reaching out for the support that’s out there, engaging with said support and working upon that myself.
Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s taken me about 14/15 years to get to a stage where I can do that. (when you’re a teenager you think you know everything and then you just leave it… lesson learned but I’m doing it now!) Since my recent serious breakdown, it’s taken me really until now to start being proactive myself. To start accepting I need to put work into this.
I’ve got a few self-help books from the library and I’m taking notes for myself. I’m looking into research on different recovery tools. I’m even engaging within various support forums to keep myself as level as I can between my CPN contact. This blog has given me the drive to want to… in the hope that it reaches someone who may need it most.
One of the biggest steps is that I’ve accepted I have to go back to the therapy I was having about my past abuse. As much as I don’t want to admit it, I’m obviously struggling because of it lately and I need to go back. So, that’s what I’m actually doing tomorrow. I’m off to my appointment at New Pathways to get those sessions back up and running. Except, I’m going to probably have to spend tomorrow’s session explaining what’s lead me to come back and what’s happened in the last few months.
Me being open and honest tomorrow is yet another way I am being proactive in my recovery. If I just sweep it under the carpet, how can I expect to recover? How can I expect to be able to move on if I’m just going to ignore that big purple elephant in the room? (Or cat if you’ve watched Big Mouth season 2)
So hopefully, that doesn’t end in disaster. I’ve even got my CPN’s details ready for the therapist in case she feels the need to contact him.
So yeah, I’m doing my bit as much as I can at the moment. I’m hoping that they help. I just wanted to give you guys a little more insight today into the recovery journey as I call it and how to be proactive in it. It doesn’t have to be major. Little things go a long way.
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