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Mental Illness and Learning to Trust the Process of Recovery

Getting a serious mental illness diagnosis is scary, but you have to reach a point of acceptance. Otherwise, how can we learn to trust the process of recovery?

When we are first given the diagnosis of mental illness, our lives feel as if they are suddenly taken from us. Ripped from our hands. We are used to leaving our home when we please, eating when we are hungry or picking up the phone and calling someone. Once we have been diagnosed, we quickly find out: Our life is no longer entirely ours! And that, that, is scary.

Fear of Our Mental Illness Diagnosis

Nobody wants to be told they have a chronic mental illness. One that lives in our brain and shakes life up when all we want is stability. The diagnosis of mental illness is frightening for those receiving the news and for those who love them. I am certain that my family was just as afraid as I was.

What are we afraid of?

  • That we won’t get better
  • That we have to take medication—probably for the rest of our lives
  • That we are no longer the person we knew; we might feel as if we are just a “diagnosis”. It can feel like we no longer have a name; just a label. A label that carries a societal stigma.
  • Fear that others will never accept us.
  • Fear that our mental health team won’t understand us or treat us properly.
  • Fear of ourselves—that is perhaps the hardest part.

The list goes on—and on– and it is specific to each person. We all have different coping mechanisms when we are given a serious diagnosis, but I believe all of us, at some point, fear the above points.

For as many different reactions each person has to the diagnosis, we all have a different road we walk to acceptance. A state of acceptance, though hard to find, is where we can feel peace and less fear.

Learning to Trust the Process of Recovery

Let us assume that we are still struggling with the diagnosis, we still are not sure how it will affect our lives and those we share them with, how can we learn to trust the process of recovery?

  • Remember that living with a mental illness does not make us alien to the world; people all struggle throughout life and this is our struggle. This is just our dragon to tame.
  • Remember that the person you were before the diagnosis is still the person you are now. You just have the opportunity to become stable and have healthy relationships. To live life as you could not before.

Try to think of recovering from mental illness as a battle of sorts: you cannot jump into the ring and conquer immediately, you need to take time to think, to plan your next move (PS sorry for the bad metaphor, really, I am)

  • Think about what recovery means to you. Does it mean your life will settle down? Imagine a life that is less full of ups and downs and instead allows you to breathe and enjoy yourself.
  • Educate yourself on your illness. Knowledge is power. Just avoid doing too many online searches on your diagnosis; talk to your mental health care team and your friends and your family. Yourself.

Learning to trust the process of recovery is what leads us to a place of acceptance. Learning to trust yourself can take time and sometimes we would rather it speed up but it’s the time in between, the quiet moments when you think, that our own journey to recovery begins.

4 thoughts on “Mental Illness and Learning to Trust the Process of Recovery”

  1. forgot fear of being put in the nut house… i have that one ha. =/
    and fear/worry of being able to afford help.. im hoping to find some insight on that one too.

  2. Hey,

    I have been recently diagnosed with schizophrenia and I’m honestly scares to death. A lot of what you talked about in this article is what I’m feeling right now. I’m just afraid that most of my family and.friends will treat me.different and joke about it. My grandfather has a mental disease like this also and my family all treat him differently. I told a couple of friends and they joke about it and really hurts my feelings and everything.

  3. Am I one of the weird ones? I was happy to be diagnosed. As odd as this may sound, to me it meant that I was not crazy. Suddenly it had a name. Borderline Personality Disorder. If it has a name then it can be fixed! Sure now I take another pill in the morning. Now I go to therapy. I am back to meditating on a regular basis and I am writing again. I read these blogs and so many of them consist of “woe is me” and “its going to be okay”. Is it really that bad? Is the sky really falling? Did I miss the nuke go off some where? When did it get so bad? Sure, maybe things are a bit different now but weren’t they different before too? Aren’t they different in a good way now? What part of your life was taken from you? I know my life was a mess with out my Zoloft, my therapy, my diagnosis and everything since. Just as another example to throw out there as well… I am sure that a Schizophrenic probably feels like they have their lives back too; no more voices or at least they have been dulled. I mean, really… Would you rather go back to the emotional roller coaster, or hearing voices or what ever other symptoms you may have had then your life now? Was your routine disrupted that much? Taking a pill or two is that bad? Actually having to apply yourself in therapy is to much for you? At the end of the day its your choice, but get over yourself. Its really not that bad.

    1. Hi, Julie!
      No, diagnosis can certainly be a relief. Often when we have an explanation for why we have felt or acted the way we have is important. “crazy” is a word like normal. We are all just so different and I think I should have touched more on the feeling of relief. I will talk about this in a further post. Thank you for your insite and comment!

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