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(with apologies to Mr.Tolkein) Can I cope? What if I can’t do it? Will I ever be “back to normal”? Sound familiar?
Every recovery journey is different, and not all anxiety sufferers are the same.
But I hope I can offer some insight into how we can answer some of these questions. Anxiety has always been a part of my life – sometimes it has been more severe and other times I almost forgot I had any “disorder.”
I have had two severe “episodes” of anxiety and OCD in my life: the first one was in my 2nd year of college and the second is happening now. Both times I was incapacitated for awhile by my disorder, both times there reached a point where I had to make a decision. Can I try and return to “real life?”
A flood of insecurities bombards me when I think about taking this step.
Can I do this? What if I fail? What will people think of me? I find myself at this stage at the moment. I have been living at home for the last three months after I had my initial relapse last year. Being home is a safe place where I feel I’ve made progress but the time has come for me to step out again. By the time you read this I will have taken that step.
In scriptwriting, there is a term used to describe the main character’s journey out of his “ordinary” comfortable world into the world of his new adventure (Think of Frodo leaving the shire). This is called “crossing the first threshold.” I feel like this is a good analogy for someone who needs to take the step out of the “comfort” of recovery onto the road to recovered.
As in a story or script, when the hero crosses the first threshold they still have a whole adventure before them. Much is still to happen before the hero discovers what he is really made of, but none of that can take place if he hasn’t crossed the first threshold yet. And so it is with recovery.
There is no definite line between recovery and recovered but it starts with one small step.
When it comes to crossing over from recovery to recovered, I see it a lot like the hero’s journey. You make that choice to step out of your comfort zone, the safe space which you’ve made for yourself.
You step out and you begin your adventure.
There will be challenges – bridges to cross, dark tunnels to pass through, trolls to fight, and mountains to climb. There will also be beautiful sunrises, song and dance, love and joy and elves (okay maybe there won’t be elves, but you get the point). We have a word for all the ups and downs and roundabouts we encounter. It’s called Life.
During my first episode of anxiety in college, someone said to me I would reach a point in my recovery when I would suddenly realize I no longer felt how I did six months ago.
She said this to me right at the beginning of my journey and she was right.
Six months later, I suddenly realised at some point I had crossed over the final barrier of recovery and could say I was recovered. This is not to say I was perfect and all was completely fine.
I still had stuff to deal with and my anxiety was not completely gone, but the fact was, I could live my life again. I could breathe.
Soon, I will be trying to work again. I’ll be paying rent and buying groceries and all of that terrifying grown up stuff. It is a scary but important step and I will have the support of friends, family, and therapy so I won’t be entirely on my own. Frodo had Sam, after all!
I feel it is important to mention there is no pressure and no rush.
Don’t ever feel you need to rush your recovery. You are mending.
I once heard it compared to a bone healing. It goes into a cast and when it comes out it may be a bit frail and you won’t be able to start running just yet but with support and the right exercises it eventually becomes right again. But it takes time and you need to be patient.
I’m coming out of my cast now and I may be a bit fragile and I might not be able to start running just yet but with the support and the right exercises I will eventually become right too.
As I sit and think about my next step and the fact that I will soon be out of home again I see the potential for hardship, for scary nights, but I also see hope, I see my friends who love me, I see a potential new beginning and I see that I have to try.
I have to walk that way even if I feel scared about the journey.
To round off my cheesy Lord of the Rings analogy, remember Gandalf’s advice to Frodo who is feeling overwhelmed by his whole journey.
Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.
Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.
Sebastian is learning life by living it. Born in Zimbabwe, High Schooled in Zambia, and living in Cape Town, he isn’t really sure what to say when people ask, “Where are you from?” Seb went to Film School in Cape Town and has worked as a video editor for the last four years. He has battled with anxiety his whole life and has been through two severe episodes, experiencing intrusive thoughts and depression. He is on the road of recovery and has found that peace and a life free of fear is possible.
SITE DISCLAIMER: The opinions and information shared in this article or any other Content on our site may not represent that of Libero Network Society. We hold no liability for any harm that may incur from reading content on our site. Please always consult your own medical professionals before making any changes to your medication, activities, or recovery process. Libero does not provide emergency support. If you are in crisis, please call 1-800-784-2433 or another helpline or 911.