Sometimes it is hard to continue working through recovery with a mental health issue in the same way that I work my recovery for my addiction struggles. I wonder at times if I am kidding myself. How do I recover from something that doesn’t go away?
For my addiction struggles I can say I have not had a drink or misused a drug for over 10 years. That is easy to track. At the moment I feel myself fighting off a depressive episode knowing that there is a really good chance that it won’t work to fight it; it is going to come anyway. But at the same time I know I can’t just crawl into bed and pull the blankets over my head like I want to.
And the truth is I don’t know FOR SURE that it will set in, maybe it won’t this time. It has happened in the past where I thought I was sliding down and I didn’t. So just accepting my fate is not helpful when I don’t know that it will actually be my fate.
In reality I know that if I am truly honest (and I do work an honest program) recovery has been tremendously helpful in managing my mental health. Working my recovery means doing the things I need to do so that I can live a life that matches up with what God has planned for me.
For instance. In the past when I felt myself sliding I would have isolated myself. I would have let anger be the driving force behind my attitude. I would have self-medicated. I would have worked to destroy my body.
Now I reach out for help. I take medications as prescribed by my doctor that helps me manage my symptoms. I take better care of myself because I know that fitness and diet play a major role in my mental health. Admittedly I could use some more work on the diet and exercise thing, but it is still better than it was! Progress not perfection! (Or I could step out of the denial)
When I take care of myself and I reach out for help I am able to get out of my lows faster. I am able to have hope that I won’t always feel this way. I can see a future that won’t be horrible.
The definition for insanity that is often used in recovery is “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” But I want to challenge that. What if I look at recovery at as doing the same things, the same healthy things, and knowing that I will get a different result, a better result. Not based on wishing but based on the results of those I have seen go before me. On the results I have seen in myself after putting in the work. I can live differently.
A good different. A life filled with purpose. A life that has mental illness involved in it but still good anyway. My diagnosis is not something I have to look at as a death sentence. My diagnosis doesn’t exempt me from living a life that is extraordinary.
Today I can see the slide begin but I have the ability to see the reason to hope as well. And I know you can too. Maybe not right now, I get that. But please trust me, it can happen. Just know that you don’t have to give up. It will be worth it, you’ll see. I’m not doing anything you can’t do. Let’s get through this together.
National Director of Mental Health for Celebrate Recovery