By Devin Riggs, Regular ContributorOctober 10, 2015
image via vi.sualize.us
I’m sitting alone in my apartment, stress covering me like a blanket. I cannot fall asleep, and yet the yawns are frequent. My mind is playing back the day, reliving every moment and analyzing what went wrong, because I am naturally self-critical. I always have been.
Since moving, my depression and anxiety have subsided a great deal. I attribute this to a new job that keeps me busy with very little downtime and new friends that I’m spending my time getting to know. It’s difficult to say if I’m really better now, even with all my progress in the last year. It’s difficult to measure my recovery, because there really isn’t a cure to mental illnesses. There’s no “clean bill of health.” These types of illnesses don’t just go away.
And that’s the thing about recovery. There is no endpoint.
There is no true cure to the issues that plague the mind. Therapy and medications and mindfulness definitely help and support, but I still have days when getting out of bed is the most difficult thing and when my anxiety threatens to break loose at the mention of a triggering thought.
It’s hard to maintain “normalcy” at work [or at school, or with new friends who don’t know my history]. Every day is a challenge to not let the depression sink in, to not let the anxieties drag me from the expectations that have been set.
It’s teaching me more and more about the art of letting things go, of realizing what’s important and what’s not. And more so, I’m learning and accepting the idea that while it is a huge part of who I am, I am not defined by my mental illness. I am capable of letting those moments go. I am capable of shifting my perspective and moving forward instead of staying stuck in a situation that’s not good for me.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy or that I won’t have awful days in the future when it’s hard to breathe or think or love myself fully.
Recovery is continuous. Recovery is constant awareness, constant vigilance.
You never really stop working on getting better. You never really stop fighting. Some days are just easier than others. Some days you still fall apart, but the next day you start putting yourself back together again. You get a little stronger and a little wiser and a little better. You keep taking one step at a time, even if sometimes you fall back a step. You just keep going. You keep fighting, and you celebrate the small victories.
Have you ever struggled with a mental illness? How has your recovery been? What helps you face the bad days? Tell us below!
Devin has a degree in education with a focus in English. She is working to publish her first collection of poetry while also learning the art of patience. Her passions include Doctor Who, penguins, hats and scarves, potatoes, dancing, photography, and making people happy. She believes in the healing powers of music, spending time in the great outdoors, and a good night sleep.
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