You’ve been suffering for a long time and feel like you’ve already hit rock-bottom. You’re in treatment, you check in with your doctor regularly and think you’re pointed in the right direction. Maybe you can even see the light at the end of the tunnel. The rest of the way should be a piece of cake, right?
I hate to be the one to say it, but sorry, no. It’s going to be difficult. Frustrating. It’s not going to go in a straight line like we’d like it to. I can tell you this because I’m living it right now.
I’m in recovery from depression and anxiety issues that were severe enough to hospitalize me a little over a month ago. Overall, I feel much better than I did two months ago and I do believe that I’m heading the right direction. But this ride is most certainly not climbing straight up the hill to where I’d like to be.
This rickety old roller coaster I’m on isn’t like most roller coasters – usually it’s a smooth ride to the top, with some thrills and bumps thrown in afterwards. No, the roller coaster I’m riding swings me through sharp ups and downs, around unexpected curves and through some massive loops. It’s all I can do to hang on for the ride. I’ll be surprised if I even recognize when it’s over. I am, however, trusting that the ride will be worth it.
There are several tools I’m carrying with me on this roller coaster ride – and that’s not because I’m expecting the ride to break down. Instead, they’re for me, to help me hang on, to help me make it to the top. I’d recommend them for anyone riding their own personal roller coaster.
Love for yourself. This ride’s going to be tough. You’re going to need to believe in yourself and trust that you’re on it for the right reason. So cultivate love for yourself. Practice such things as gratitude, compassion and joy to help build your love for yourself.
Gratitude is finding things about yourself that you’re thankful for. I’m grateful that I’ve found my purpose and passion for writing again. Practicing compassion for yourself is about accepting who you are on any given day. Some days will be harder than others and we need to allow ourselves a moment of weakness or a day of rest in order to continue with our recovery. We’re not going to get it right every time. And finally, look for the little moments of joy you can find in life to celebrate. It only takes one small moment to help turn a bad day into a good one. You’ll find that as the love increases for yourself that your capacity to show love to others will increase as well.
Have some patience. This ride’s not going to be over in 90 seconds like a regular coaster would. This ride could take months, for some of us, maybe even years. Recovery doesn’t come in the form of ground-rattling earthquakes, thunderbolts or lightning strikes from the sky. Rather, it’s a process, and it’s going to take time.
Remember, those of us going through recovery are healing. You wouldn’t expect a broken leg to mend itself overnight, would you? The wounds you have are deep, even though they’re not visible, and they’re going to require attention, care and most importantly, time to heal. And there’s no way you’re going to be able to know how long it’s going to take. So, pay attention to yourself, and not the calendar – you will know when you’ve reached your healing point.
Take A Partner. Rides are more fun when you’ve got someone beside you. Whether it’s a loved one, a doctor or a therapist, have someone you can share this experience with. It’s really helpful to have someone with an outside perspective to help guide us through all of the ups and downs. It’s so easy to lose sight of the progress we’ve already made when we hit a snag. It’s good to have someone there to say, “Yes, this is difficult for you now, but look at where you were six months ago.”
It’s so very easy to get caught up in the here-and-now when we’re recovering from depression and anxiety. Many times it feels like we’re sliding backwards into our old ways. But those are just feelings, and while they might remind us of our past struggles, the truth is that feelings can come and go just like our thoughts do. Having a partner in your recovery process can help you keep the bigger picture in view when you’re going through a down time.
Recovery is a necessarily painful process. It’s easy to get frustrated and feel like you’re falling backwards. But taking some simple steps to prepare yourself for all the ups and downs involved can make going through your recovery a little bit easier on yourself. After all, you’ve been on this ride long enough – let’s try to make the end of it as smooth as we can.
Jason has suffered from depression and anxiety for over twenty years. He can be contacted at:https://www.facebook.com/jason.large.12?fref=nf
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