recovery from a mental health episode is often hard to measure. the progress can be painfully slow with change taking place over weeks, months and years. i was (and sometimes still am) gripped with the fear that it’s never going to get better than this. that i am working so hard but feel stuck in the same feelings, thinking the same thoughts. because we live it every day, our growth is difficult to see.
so at the times when i do recognize my progress, i celebrate. i stop. i remember.
one year ago i felt like a zombie. i had just been discharged from my second hospitalization and was about to leave partial. my depression was so thick, my anxiety so strong that i was barely functional. i crawled through each day on my hands and knees. the most basic of tasks felt like major obstacles to me: eating food. showering. going outside. driving. talking to people. i dreaded, avoided leaving the house. i relied on my family so very much. they kept me fed, took me out on walks, sat with me when i cried, held me when i couldn’t sleep. one year ago my life felt like one long, painful, terrifying day that would never end.
in two days i am going on vacation with my husband. vacation. it’s impossible to underscore what a victory this is for me. i am going to get on a plane and fly thousands of miles away for a whole week. before i got sick i considered a vacation to be fun and exciting. today, a vacation is a miracle. it represents how far i’ve come.
today i am emotionally strong enough to leave my support system for a week. to have limited communication with my family and my therapists. to rely on myself to stay safe and strong.
today i have the energy to travel. i have carefully planned this trip and feel excited about it. i am looking forward to trying new things and exploring somewhere unfamiliar. i have confidence and curiosity.
today i have the coping skills to travel. i am not afraid that my depression or anxiety will “take over” because i have so many tools i can use to practice self care. i have a deeper awareness of how my mental illnesses affect me so i know how to respond when things get tough.
over the past year i kept going. and ever so slowly things began to improve. through the backs and forths and ups and downs i kept moving forward – even when i didn’t know it. when i look at where i was and where i am now, i can see my progress. i am so proud of how hard i have worked. the countless hours i spent on recovery have mattered. the time in therapy, practicing yoga and meditation, talking with family and friends, reading and learning about mental illness, working on my blog and choosing wellness have helped me start to rebuild my life.
i still have depression. i still have anxiety. i still don’t know when recovery really ends. but i do know this: one year ago i couldn’t go grocery shopping. in 48 hours i am going out of the country. and i can’t wait.