One year. It’s been one whole year, and I feel like I am back at square one. If only I could just take that blue chip and say, “Here God, I’m giving up my depression!” But that would be way too easy. One year ago, I found myself in my driveway, determined to end my life. I had sent only one text to one person, but that text led to a 2-hour conversation that saved my life. From that day forward, I started the journey to recovery from my mental health issue. How in the world do I recover from a mental health issue, one that is always there? One that seems to haunt me, creating a blinding storm in which all I can see is my pain and anguish?
Recovery: a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength; the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.
In CR, recovery is a decision followed by a process. That day, sitting in my driveway, on the phone, I made that very decision that I was not God, that I could not control my mental health issue, and that my life had become unmanageable. I made the choice that I was going to do whatever it took to bring myself back to a state of health, of peace. What I didn’t know was the long, hard journey ahead of me that awaited. You see, when dealing with mental health, it’s not a cut and dry, easy path to manage.
I made the phone calls to see a psychiatrist, to see a counselor. I saw that counselor, sat right in her office, and poured out my heart. Or, at least I thought I did. I told her a deep, dark secret that I had held within me, and she basically told me that she didn’t care. What? Isn’t that what she was there for? I left feeling even more alone and confused. And so I asked myself, “What now?” I had made a decision to do what it took, and that meant that I had to find another route to take. I was so disappointed and I desperately wanted to give up. If she felt like that, then all counselors did, right? I heard a voice in the back of my head say, “you are worthy of recovery, my child.” If all individuals are unique, then there was bound to be another counselor out there that I could try. So I searched and found another counselor, and it was the best decision I ever made.
One of the hardest, most frustrating, and difficult things about mental health recovery is the medications. I went to a psychiatrist, and I was prescribed medications to take, well, to “try.” So I tried them. The side effects can be horrible. I have personally tried at least 11 different medications, none of which have worked the way they need to. With these many medications come medication changes. I suffered and endured nasty side effects such as aphasia, fatigue, drowsiness, nausea, and so many others. I have yet to find a medication that has worked to keep me emotionally stable. So many times I just want to throw in the towel and yell at God, “I QUIT!!! I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE!!!” I don’t want to endure more medication changes. I don’t want to endure prolonged periods of depressive episodes. If I quit, then ultimately I would be saying, “I don’t want to recover.”
In the midst of my struggle, I keep going. You want to know what keeps me going? The fact that no matter what all I have tried or taken, there will ALWAYS be something else to try if that doesn’t work. I remind myself and give myself pep talks. I reach out to my support system. I utilize my safety plan and my mental health agreement. Most importantly, I am honest about my feelings and do not pretend that recovery is easy. I sit here now, ready to give up. But there’s something else that I haven’t tried yet. So I’ll go try it.
Romans 5:3 “We rejoice in our sufferings because we know suffering produces perseverance.”
April Brantley, CR Mental Health X-Factor