Mental illness recovery looks nothing like I expected it would. Talk of recovery painted pictures of cures for mental illness that removed all struggle from my life and made everything—and I mean everything—better. What I’ve found is that recovery is different from that perception, and the truth is I’m okay with that.
Recovering from Mental Illness
Let’s face it: setbacks aren’t fun, and they can feel especially un-fun when they’re mental health recovery setbacks. Building resilience in mental health recovery can help with that. Resilience sounds like such a big thing, but all it means is the ability to bounce back from difficulties.
When I had nothing but my mental health struggles, I had writing. I had no answers. I had no knowledge of how to fix or stop my pain. I only had emotions simultaneously carving out and bursting from my aching chest, so I tried to put them into words. In doing so, without knowing it, I was writing my way to recovery.
One concept that’s helped me a lot in recovery from mental illness is this: recovery is not linear. It seems simple, but understanding this helps me be aware that the recovery process may have peaks and valleys. It also helps me be aware of the changes that bring on peaks and valleys, like big life changes.
When I reflect on my recovery from mental illness, it comes down to three key factors. This blog will go over these three things. I know how difficult the struggle is with mental illness, so I hope they’re helpful to others.
No matter how much someone covets mental illness recovery, some part of it feels scary. My struggles with mental health started when I was very young, and there were years and years when I was desperate for recovery—but I was also terrified of it. From what I’ve seen, my experience and feelings are not uncommon, so I want to take a closer look at that.
Up to this point in my life, addressing my mental health struggles and seeking recovery has been personal work, and I've never been to therapy to help with mental health conditions. I’ve learned about my illnesses and done self-reflection and soul-searching. It’s been by myself, except for a stint of attending peer support groups and being a part of online peer support groups. During all this time, I’ve wondered, would I benefit from therapy for my mental health?
I’ve lived with not wanting to live since before I was a teenager, but my suicidal thoughts have been quiet lately. It’s odd not to have that little voice in the back of my head jumping at every opportunity to tell me how the world would be better off without me. But what does it mean, if anything? Does it mean I’m recovered, and my suicidal thoughts aren’t going to come back? (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)
"Everything happens for a reason" is a popular trope in the world of mental health recovery, but personally, I believe it's a lie, and here's why.
Recently, my therapist pointed out that even though I'm pretty good about basic self-care, like getting enough sleep and drinking water, I've been neglecting my emotional self-care. As soon as she said something, I knew she was right. I'd been avoiding my emotions by refusing to engage in anything that might make me emotional, like journaling, sad movies, or even listening to music. So I decided it was time to revamp my emotional self-care with these three basic changes.