The Ups and Downs of Mental Health Recovery

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It’s okay to take a step backwards. It’s okay if your recovery isn’t linear. It’s okay if you’re up, down and sideways. It’s okay if you’re not recovering as quickly as you’d like to. You’re doing the best you can. 

The thing is, recovery from a mental illness is hard. It’s easy to imagine that one day you magically heal and return to the person that you once were… and that’s it. Except reality isn’t like that at all. Recovery is something that you have to consciously choose to engage in every day. Recovery is a brave, yet painful, act. It takes a tremendous amount of effort and dedication. If you are currently choosing to recover, I’m proud of you. 

It’s important to realize that it’s completely normal to take 2 steps forward and 1 step back. It’s even normal to take 1 step forward and 2 steps back! As long as you’re attempting to heal, you're succeeding. Even if you feel your progress stagnating, recovery allows you to learn and develop in new ways. Don’t worry about your pace, and don’t compare yourself to other people. This is YOUR journey! 

Recovery involves consistency, strength and change. It requires letting go of old habits, and shaping yourself into a better form. You wake up every day and commit to moving forward, even when you don’t want to. Sometimes you might long to retreat into your safe haven, and avoid the recovery process for a day, and that’s okay too!  Just don’t let yourself recede into old habits. After taking a mental break, resume your journey as soon as possible.   

Recovering from a mental illness was one of the hardest things I ever did. My illness subsumed my identity. I was able to relate to people going through the same ordeal, and found comfort in my personal bubble of sadness. Breaking free of that bubble was a difficult process. Sometimes I didn’t want to improve, because healing was hard and placed me out of my comfort zone; but I knew I had to. 

Recovery opens a whole new world of opportunities. If I had remained in my depressed condition, I would probably still be a patient in a mental health hospital. Instead, I pushed through, embracing both the good and bad aspects of recovery. Now, I am on my way to becoming a mental health nurse. My journey has provided me with new friendships, countless opportunities, and a whole lot of happiness. Of course, it wasn’t always smooth sailing, but nothing worth having comes easy. 

If you’re going through mental health recovery right now, please know that you are not alone. And remember, recovery is 100% worth it. Some days will be harder than others, but never forget your long-term goals in case you ever start slipping back into old, self-destructive behaviors. I recommend writing down your motivating factors for recovery, and store the list somewhere safe for a rainy day.   

For now, it’s okay if your recovery consists of tears and doubt. It’s okay if you’re not even sure where you’re heading, or what a full recovery means to you. If you choose recovery, you are only getting stronger every day. If you choose recovery, you choose life. And you should be proud of that decision every second of every day. 

Written By: Leah Mercer

1 comment

  • Monica

    Thank you for sharing your words of encouragement, I’m choosing to slowly recover from my own mental health illness. The past week was quite tough for me. I needed to hear this.

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