Having just started Group DBT Therapy, naturally I have spent a lot of time reflecting on how my life has changed so dramatically over the last 12 months and where I am on my journey at present. I’ve been told by mental health professionals that I’m now in recovery but what does that entail? I personally, think that the word “recovery” isn’t the most indicative of what stage I am currently in. Recovery implies that you will get better from something like a hangover or a cold. However, that doesn’t happen with regards to a mental illness. You don’t simply suffer for a while and then get better and life is completely normal again. The harsh reality is that you never do fully recover and part of “recovery” is accepting that there is no miraculous antidote to a mental illness. The other objective of recovery is learning how to live a life worth living in spite of having a mental disorder. It’s a time period in which you start all over again, beginning to explore who you are, and discovering the right tools to ensure that you live an authentic version of your life.
My approach to recovery is to take it one day at a time and to stick to a daily routine of getting out of bed, eating, going out for a walk with the dog, reading and writing. It seems very simple and I’m sure many of you are asking yourself, “Is this really worthy of being documented? It’s something that we all do”. In reality, all of those things are a massive deal for me and it takes all my energy committing myself to do each and one of those “normal” tasks. It’s something that I have gradually been building up to do and there are still days when getting out of bed and feeding myself are far too overwhelming and subsequently I am left feeling drained- both emotionally and physically – to the extent where I’m too exhausted to even function in the most essential of ways.
So-called Recovery is subjective. It can be a period of a few months, or a few years. Everyone’s illness requires different levels of support. I am finding recovery extremely frustrating because I feel like I’ve been fighting a losing battle with my mind for most of my life and I am still not in a good place. Like most illnesses, the longer you leave a mental illness undiagnosed and untreated, the longer it takes to recover. In my case, I have been suffering since a young child and I waited until I was 25 to get the necessary help so I must constantly remind myself to be patient and that this isn’t going to be an overnight fix. I now know that my healing process is far from being linear. There are good days and there are horrendous days, but I am starting to notice that the good days are becoming more frequent and long may it continue.