Accepting My Struggles in Mental Health Recovery
People might think I have my life together, and for the most part, I do. But even after years of mental health recovery, I still struggle. My mental health struggles and how I react to them are different now from when I was first diagnosed, but some days it is painfully clear that recovery is a lifelong battle.
Keeping Up the Mental Health 'Recovered' Image
Early in my mental health recovery, I decided to be an advocate. Treatment got my life back on track, and I felt healthy and productive. I wanted others to know that there's hope. I've worked in the mental health field for over a decade and became a certified peer supporter five years ago. I sometimes feel I have to keep up this "stable and sane" image, but at times maybe it's not that believable.
This image isn't just about the peers I help at work; it's for everyone that learns about my mental illness. I want people to know I have a good life despite having schizoaffective disorder -- whether it feels like it that day or not. Even with the ups and downs, treatment for schizoaffective disorder saved my life. I take a lot of medications for my mental illness but you can't expect medications to prevent bad things from happening in life.
Reacting to Mental Health Struggles Later in Recovery
It's still hard to ask for help, but I've learned from my recovery that asking for help is the start to feeling better. The fear of the unknown isn't as strong anymore. But when you're really struggling, making that phone call or speaking up at your appointment can still be really hard. I feel like I recognize the need faster now, though.
One way I have learned to react to my mental health struggles is by knowing it's okay to take a break -- and I actually follow through with this. I call off work when I'm not feeling well -- physically or mentally. Two weeks ago, I canceled plans for an event over the weekend. I felt bad at first. It was something I was looking forward to, but I just felt really overwhelmed. However, in the following days, I was really glad I stayed home. I needed that. You know when you need a break. Trust that intuition.
Another thing I've learned about struggling later in mental health recovery: You can't go it alone. You have to let people in. You have to let them help. Humans need each other.
Sharing My Mental Health Recovery Struggles
I'm not just writing this article for the benefit of others. I constantly need to be reminded that it's normal to struggle -- even in solid recovery. I feel as a peer supporter sharing my struggles helps me to connect with others. Sometimes being vulnerable makes others feel more comfortable and trusting, but it's just as beneficial to me as it is the peer I'm supporting.
There's a huge difference from what my life was like before my diagnosis and medication to what it's like now. My life was once chaotic and my dreams were stalled. Now it's stable with a family, job, and goals.
Everyone struggles. No one is immune to life's stressors. We can connect through our struggles and lean on each other. Recovery doesn't make hard times go away; it just makes us more resilient.
Rahm, M. (2019, November 13). Accepting My Struggles in Mental Health Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, July 7 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2019/11/accepting-my-struggles-in-mental-health-recovery