When I first joined Libero as a mental health writer almost a year ago, I felt certain about how my choice to do so would play out. Mentally, I was in a good place–my depression and OCD were under control, and I’d found a place to use my words and personal experiences in a way that would (hopefully) affect others in a positive way. I hoped to connect with people like me, by opening up and sharing a part of my life that had in the past remained largely private.
I was going to inspire anyone who might be struggling with mental health, determined to prove that while recovery is a road with no clear end in sight, achieving a sense of wellness and growth is possible if you want it enough.
Now, I find myself sitting here on deadline night, completely uninspired.
I have no words of wisdom, no wry humor or funny anecdote to share. While not nearly at rock bottom, my own demons have resurfaced and the past two months have not been easy ones. I don’t feel certain about anything, and I definitely don’t feel like I have the right to tell anyone else how to handle their own issues.
I’ve been plagued by crippling anxiety, and OCD has renewed its control over my life. My medication has been doubled and insomnia has stolen more nights from me recently than I can count. I’m finding it hard to do anything more than make it to work every day, where luckily, I feel some sense of happiness and normalcy. Anything else takes too much effort, more focus than what my restless mind can afford right now.
I’m preoccupied by fear, my imagination running wild in a world of worst-case scenarios.
So you’re probably asking yourself at this point, why I’m even bothering to write this out for you, and a part of me is maybe even asking the same thing.
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Here’s the deal–while the road to recovery is paved with endless stories of courage and victory over those things which ail us, and there are millions of inspirational quotes to find your own strength in, the truth is–sometimes, you’re going to fall apart. It’s not going to be pretty or happen neatly, and you’ll probably feel like a giant ball of crazy, hot mess. You won’t be in control, and you won’t feel up to putting on a brave face.
And you know what? That’s okay. It’s fine, it’s going to happen, and anyone who tries to pretend differently is full of it.
There’s going to be awesome articles this month about the power of accountability and its importance in maintaining and regulating our recovery. The other writers will talk about the necessity of being accountable to your friends, your relationships, your therapy, etc. However, it’s just as necessary to remain accountable to the truth of your journey and your right to falter, mess up, and be imperfect.
You’re not going to wake up every day feeling like the most well-adjusted, ideal version of yourself. You’re not going to win every battle and sometimes, the voices that whisper in the back of your mind are going to win. You might feel like sleeping the entire weekend away and even give in to the urge to shatter while no one is looking. There will be times that no motivational quote on this earth will stop you from slipping back down into the dark again.
All of this is completely okay.
What is important is to remember every step is equally important, whether it’s one we take forward or back. Recovery is a process, and it’s not always up from here.
For me, today’s a bad day, and tomorrow might not be different. I don’t know when I’ll start to feel better again; but I do know eventually, I will. Bad will turn into fine, will turn into good, will turn into great. I’ve been on this sea a lifetime, and the waves, high and low, are not strangers to me.
It is important to always look for the light in dark places, to remind ourselves we’re mental health warriors, and in the end, we’re unstoppable.
But even the greatest warriors have their limits, and you shouldn’t punish yourself for being human. Don’t punish yourself for having bad days. Don’t punish yourself for feeling sad or angry or defeated. Don’t tell yourself that recovery means never feeling weak.
Do remember you’re stronger than you think, and eventually the storm will break. Every step forward, no matter how small, is progress. While perfection may be unattainable, nothing lasts forever and every day is a new chance to be a better version of yourself. Even if you cannot see it or believe it right now, the light at the end of the tunnel is always burning, always waiting to grow brighter.
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