Recovery is not easy.
Anyone who tells you that recovery is easy is a liar, and that’s coming from someone who considers herself an eternal optimist. I’m an advocate for empowering people through lifting them up, showing them the strength they possess to face the upcoming battles of mental health recovery; but sometimes being honest is better than being optimistic.
Recovery is not easy, and sometimes it’s downright scary. It’s unnerving, it’s stressful, it’s exhausting. It’s a constant uphill battle, it’s slipping and falling, and having to set boundaries with people that you know aren’t helping you achieve your goal. It’s finding a way to know what you need to be your best self, all while maintaining some sense of normalcy.
Recovery is finding the courage to get up and fight the same demons that beat you down yesterday, approaching with a new tactic and still failing. It’s realizing that sometimes to win a war, you have to fight the same battle over and over again, on different days, in different settings.
When I started therapy for emetophobia almost 5 years ago, I knew I needed to get better and I knew I wanted to take the fastest route to that destination. But the thing is, there is no fast track. There is no instant on-off switch to our mental health. If it were that simple, would there even be mental health issues?
No, recovery takes work. Every day it’s a constant battle of reminding yourself that you need to focus on being rational in the face of a panic attack. It’s reminding yourself that you are not okay, but it’s fine that you aren’t; you don’t have to be perfect right now, you just have to make it through.
Sometimes, our mental health goes up and up and up, and all of a sudden it comes crashing down. In a split second, one small moment complete derails all progress you’ve made, and you’re left sitting in the middle of a spinning vortex of everything you thought you left behind, that you thought you conquered.
There’s a genuine feeling of helplessness that comes with that. Imagine being completely in control of your mind, your actions, your responses, and then falling right back down into the pit that you worked so hard to escape.
I can’t even put into words how I felt when I started struggling with severe panic attacks again in October 2016. I was scared, lost, confused, helpless, and sad. I looked at where I was and wondered how I let myself get here, and I felt angry that I couldn’t just pick myself up from where I left off. This all felt so new, so different, so insanely catastrophic, that my life stopped for almost 3 months as I tried to navigate this new terrain.
In every step of my recovery, I had moments I wanted to give up. I had moments where I felt like just being panicked and scared and letting these worries run my life was easier than putting myself through the stress of exposure therapy and challenging irrational compulsions that had become very ingrained into my being.
There were days where I wondered if I would ever be rid of the constant panic, and if it was even worth the effort I was putting in if I’d always be this way. There were days I decided the best course of action for my recovery was to stay in bed and binge watch Netflix.
Healing is not linear, there are good days and bad days, and sometimes you have the worst day of your life. You get out of recovery what you put in, and if you don’t try, and if you don’t push yourself well beyond your limits, you will never make progress. Some days that’s harder than others, because there are those days where pushing yourself seems to do more harm than good, but you have to think long term, think of the future.
Recovery is hard. So, so hard. It’s anything but comfortable, but it’s a choice you have to make and stick to. It almost becomes a lifestyle. Recovery becomes something that requires daily commitment, and you gotta ask yourself if you’re capable of handling that.
So yes, recovery is hard… But I’d also be a liar if I told you that all this wasn’t worth it.
Don’t get me wrong, recovery is no cake walk. It’s not something that makes you better in no time, but it’s worth every single struggle.
It’s worth the panic as you stretch your boundaries, it’s worth the exhaustion after a tough therapy session, and it’s worth the tears of frustration and anger when things don’t go as well as you hoped.
In the past 2 years alone I’ve done so many things I never would have imagined I’d be doing. If you had asked 5 year ago me if she thought she’d be flying across country, moving to a new city, trying new foods, facing her fear of heights and really finding her true self, she’d probably laugh in your face and exclaim something dripping with sarcasm.
I have never in my life been happier and a more well rounded person than I am today, and it’s because I took the leap of faith into uncertainty. There’s nothing certain about starting your path to recovery. Every person is going to take a different amount of time, have different techniques, and be completely different people by the end of it.
I’ve learned so much about myself, and I’ve become so aware of what it is I enjoy, what I want to be, and what I want for myself emotionally. These journey’s we take when it comes to mental health recovery are ours to make. We hold the keys, we’re in the drivers seat, and if we don’t ever turn the car on, put it in drive, and hit the gas pedal, we can’t be shocked when progress isn’t being made.
Recovery is hard because no one else can do it for you. There’s no magic wand, no mystical cure that someone else can apply. You are the only person standing in the way of controlling and managing your fears, your panic, your anxiety. But recovery is rewarding because when you face your fears, when you learn how to manage it, and you go through the struggles you go through, you learn your true strength. You become stronger, more rational, more wise. You begin to understand your signs of an impending panic attack, you understand how you feel when you’re anxious, and you start to battle it just a little bit easier than ever before.
Recovery is hard. Don’t let anyone tell you differently, but recovery is worth it. It’s all about how much you want it, and how much you want to see your life change.
If you would like to email #Fearless, you can send any questions, concerns, comments or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. We do our best to respond within 48 hours, but if for some reason we cannot get back to you in that time frame, we promise we will always respond as soon as possible. You can also find us on any of the following social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram!
Lastly, we run an Emetophobia Support Group on Facebook. Emetophobia is the intense and irrational fear of throwing up, and it is one struggle we are passionately engaged in. It is a closed, by request only group to help facilitate sharing and support by all members. It is also private, meaning that the posts you and others make will not show up publicly in your newsfeed.