4 Essentials of Recovery
I've been been wondering how I can take what I've experienced and turn it into advice for others. I'm starting to see parts of my recovery as chapters in a self discovery journey, and I wanted to take some time to focus on these 4 major components.
I was ignorant, closed minded, and was holding on to too many unnecessary guards. I used to put a lot of pressure on myself to be liked, to appear strong, and I thought I had to be successful at work to be successful as a person.
It's not until the last year that I've really begun to understand the significance of mental health. I needed to get over myself, my ego, my expectations, the stigma, etc... to really be ready to accept help. Seems to me that real continued growth and progress requires continually and consciously peeling back those layers, again and again.
It's okay to not be okay. Most of us aren't okay. It's okay to talk to someone about how you feel. Get over yourself.
I needed to understand the real-ness of mental health. My feelings felt like an error on my part. I didn't understand why I was feeling what I was feeling or believe that I could feel any different. I needed a new perspective on mental wellness.
I needed to understand mental illnesses as a biological condition, which also implies it's treatability.
I needed to understand the pervasiveness of mental illnesses.
I needed to understand the real, scientifically proven benefits of meditation.
I needed to understand that every single input matters when it comes to my neurochemistry. Diet, exercise, entertainment, alcohol, etc...
I needed a little extra help getting my chemistry straight, and my has psychiatrist done just that. It has taken a year of observing how my body was reacting to medication and making necessary adjustments to hit my current balance. This process requires major patience. It can take up to 6 weeks for the effects to stabilize, and the changes can be almost too gradual to notice over time. Not to mention the long waits for appointments and general frustrations with the healthcare system.
It's like the medication provides me just a tiny bit more control in difficult situations; it's the tiny boost I didn't realize I needed. I find it easier to be less reactive. I'm not as likely to spiral in negative emotions for hours.
I'm not saying if you're unhappy, you need meds. I'm also a big believer in the effects of therapy, lifestyle changes, and mindfulness practice to heal one's mind. But in my case, when presented the option, I figured I should take advantage of every tool I can, and I'm happy with that choice.
Your emotions are valid. It's okay to feel. But, they don't define you.
The voice in your head isn't right. Negative self talk is detrimental.
So much of our lives are us projecting expectations onto those around us and repeating the same old story.
These are some of the lessons I've learned in therapy. While medication might have given me a little nudge to be on the right path, I also needed to talk through these emotions with someone who could explain the psychology to me. Psychiatrists are brain-doctors... They listen for symptoms and prescribe a medication, or adjust a dosage. Therapists are mind-doctors. They listen for symptoms and help the patient make sense of what they don't understand.
My therapist was the one who assigned me the homework of downloading Headspace to start meditating. She helped me soooooo much.
To wrap things up, there's no easy fix for such a complex issue as mental health. For me, it took a combination of victories in each of these four areas to understand and improve my mental health. My hope is that maybe by sharing this, I'll inspire someone else to examine these areas of their life. Hoping to make the world a little happier and a little more loving :)
I'll leave you with a couple neat infographics