Choose Recovery

I’ve been reflecting on my progress recently. Recognizing how far I’ve come and what I have overcome. A year ago I thought I was in a good place, but seeing where I am now I understand that I continue to grow and flourish in ways I don’t even recognize at the time.


This is recovery.


I can look back on three points of major change. First, when I chose recovery. Second, when I chose myself. And lastly, when I chose fulfillment.


I chose recovery after my second suicide attempt. I was done with the list of medications I could no longer keep track of and had no idea what they were supposed to be doing. I was done with ignoring my therapist’s suggestions, and the skills presented to me. I was done letting my mind win. So, I tried. It may seem simple now, but this shift in mindset was the start of my recovery.


I started listening to my providers and being honest when my medication was not working properly. I began to try the suggestions and skills, even when I thought they were worthless. I tried my best to create a lifestyle that supported recovery and let things go that were detrimental to my health.


After this initial change, things did get better. Slowly and just a little, but it got better.
The second major change occurred when I left graduate school. I realized I had put other’s needs before my own, and I was working myself to the bone. I began to understand that I couldn’t manage my health and the career I had planned for myself. At the time, it felt like a failure, but now I recognize my strength and how important it was for me to choose myself.


The last major point of change occurred more recently. I looked at my life and I recognized what fulfilled me. It wasn’t the work I was currently doing, and it wasn’t how I was spending my free time. So, I made some changes.


Words, activism, supporting nature, and creating are what fulfill me.


I began to read more, write more, create more. I let go of expectations for perfection and really even an end goal. I didn’t understand what I was doing at the time, but I can see how I was choosing my passions.


I want to invest in my passions because my life is worth it. I chose recovery so I could do amazing things, and that’s what I intend on doing.


I feel content, and I think at times, that feeling is more fulfilling than happiness. I have goals for my future and things I want to do. My work fulfills me and inspires me to help others.


Recovery has been worth the blood, sweat, and many many tears. But I wouldn’t change a thing, because if I hadn’t tried to get better, I would not be here today.

My Person

We all need a person- someone they feel comfortable reaching out to, someone empathic, someone who cares, someone who is willing to take the time, and someone outside of one’s relationship.

Having someone to talk to and specifically reach out to is creating a safety net. When I feel lost and don’t know where to turn to- I turn to my person.

When I found someone I felt comfortable with, I told my person how important they are to me. I told my person how empathic and supportive they are, and I thanked them for being there for me when I needed it most.

I am honest with myself and my feelings. I recognize my warning signs. I shared how it can be difficult for me to reach out, and my person prioritizes reaching out to me as well, knowing what I struggle with.

Friendship is a two-way street. The relationship needs to be two-sided and equal. I support my person’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions just as they do for me. Supporting each other only strengthens our relationship. Being open and vulnerable creates a safe space for both individuals.

My person has helped me through difficult situations and challenges. It helps knowing I have someone in my corner. My openness and honesty have only brought me closer to my person. I can recognize how close we have become and I am so grateful for that.

Find someone to reach out to. Stay connected and safe.

Suicidal Thoughts

I’m in a safe space now and I feel in control of my illnesses, but I still have and will forever have suicidal thoughts. These thoughts are less frequent and they don’t last as long, but they are a symptom of my illness that I will always have to manage.

When I think back to my past suicidal thoughts, and the attempts, I can sum up my feelings in four little words- well, this is it.

For me, suicidal thoughts occur when stress, emotions, and depression build. At that moment, I don’t know where to turn. Sometimes it’s loneliness and loss of hope. Other times it’s the emptiness and wanting it to end. And it has also been uncertainty, not knowing how things will turn out.

The thoughts and urges are incredibly frightening and I can get stuck in them, like mud, dragging me down further and further. At this point, I feel stuck in emotion mind.

A person should never have to go through these thoughts alone. Yes, one may be able to work through them alone, but why?

Reaching out when suicidal thoughts occur is very difficult, but it is worth it. Experiencing these thoughts are not a sign of weakness, they’re a symptom of a challenging mental illness. Working through these thoughts takes incredible strength and determination.

Talking about my suicidal thoughts and urges has saved my life more than once. These thoughts are scary, but they’re more manageable when I have someone by my side, talking them through, and reminding me how important it is that I continue fighting.

Reach out; save yourself.

Outgrowing Relationships

Whenever I meet someone new, I immediately believe I will always feel the same way about them and they will forever be a part of my life. I have big feelings, so I often accept quickly and love hard. I also struggle to be around others, and I require a lot in my relationship. Often my needs change first and my feelings follow.

In my heart, I never let go of people. If I’ve cared about you in the past, I will forever care about you, no matter the circumstances.

I now understand that it is normal to go apart in relationships, specifically friendships. It is also normal to grow closer to some friends and grow distant from others, for no other reason than life or distance.

I’m currently in a stage of transition in my life. I’ve grown comfortable with after college life, but things continue to change, and I wonder- what’s next? As my life circumstances begin to change, I’ve noticed that I’ve slowly grown closer to some friends, have made unexpected new friends, but overall have distanced myself from others; spending more time with myself and family.

This change is something I used to fear, but now I find it cleansing. I know it’s okay to outgrow relationships, even when it’s hard. It’s also okay to stay close with others but see them less often. I’m enjoying more alone time in my life, something I used to be unable to have. So I want the time I do spend with others to be meaningful and uplifting.

Be around people who make you feel good about yourself, the world, other people, your beliefs and values, and everything that makes you, you.

Confidence

I’ve been struggling with my self-confidence recently. I know it is a symptom of my depression, a period that I am currently going through. Even though I understand the source, I still feel the effects. So I will recognize each feeling of self-doubt, but I refuse to accept and internalize these doubts and fears

I fear my time is not as valuable as others.

I worry my writing is a waste of time.

I fear I am not enough.

I worry I won’t be able to handle future challenges.

I fear others won’t accept me if I put myself out there.

All these negative thoughts and self-doubts have been damaging my confidence. It leads me to a dark place I’ve been to before. A year or two ago this would have made me stuck. Now, I know the pattern, and I recognize what can get me through it.

While depression lingers, I’m still experiencing self-doubt. I’m hearing the thoughts and then pushing them awaybecause these unhelpful beliefs are not going to control me. I am filling my time with things that do increase my confidence: reading, writing, yoga, running, being around kids, talking with someone who understands me, and organizing my space. The thoughts may continue, but I’m going to keep living and fighting.

Reframing Thoughts


Initially, most of my thoughts are negative. I can thank the chemicals in my brain for that. I spent most of my life believing these thoughts, and the awful things I told myself.

This process impaired my health and functioning in a few ways. First, I always thought very little of myself. I had no confidence, I was unstable, and I could not experience joy. I took my negative thoughts as truths, and it almost killed me.

These thoughts affected my relationships as well. I viewed distant friends as intentionally ignoring me, and I took their actions personally. I believed that if I hated myself so much, others likely did too. So I distanced myself before others could first.

The thoughts lead to fear of abandonment within my relationship. I couldn’t be alone because of my negative thoughts. They ate away at my mind and spirit, and I felt trapped inside my own dark mind.

I continued to listen and believe these thoughts, and I questioned why my mental health still was not improving.

Slowly, I began to challenge these thoughts. At first, it was very intentional and it took a lot of willpower to reframe what my mind told me. Over time it became more natural, and I no longer had to work through each thought I had.

Now, I will talk to friends and family and they comment on how I am the voice of reason or how I always find the positive of the situation. I don’t do this to be that bright bubbly person we might associate with positivity. I do this to save and protect myself. Negativity is one of my worst enemies. I’ve had to distance myself and cut off relationships due to negativity, so I try very hard to stay positive.

I always thought I was being a realist by acknowledging and listening to negative thoughts. In reality, though, I didn’t believe in myself and what I could overcome and accomplish. I couldn’t recognize the strength and light that was hidden underneath these thoughts.

I will continue to reframe my negative thoughts. It is essential to my recovery and my health. It might seem impossible at first, but thoughts are just that, thoughts.

New Year, Same Me

Another year has passed, and I’m looking forward to a fresh start. But each year, I’m reminded of how most people view a new year.


Most New Years’ resolutions relate to change. We analyze our life and pick out all the things we don’t like about our lives. There are a couple of issues with this method of growth.


First, a New Year’s resolution tells us that who we are currently, isn’t good enough. To become a better person, we need to change what we don’t like about ourselves. If we do this each year, we will never be accepting ourselves for who we are currently. We will always see what needs to be changed, instead of learning to love who we are.


Secondly, making a positive change in one’s life does not need to occur only once a year. I am all for making positive changes: eating healthier, exercising more, or incorporating healthier habits in our lives. But as we know, most resolutions don’t last. So, if we want to change something, just do it, and don’t wait till a new year to help ourselves. If something is truly important, stick with it and make the change.


This year, I’m going to be the exact same me as I was last year, and the year before, and the year before that. I will continue to be worthy, unique, kind, and strong. I will continue to be honest with myself and my needs. I will keep making positive changes when they arise, and I won’t wait till a new year to change something about my life that I’m unhappy with.


For me, this fresh start of a new year is simply an opportunity to let go of all the negativity and stress that I’ve been holding onto this year. I am not becoming a new or improved version of myself, because I don’t need to. Who I am right now, is more than enough.

Welcoming Change

I’m incredibly stubborn and often fear change. I feel comfortable in a routine and am hesitant to try new things. Yet, welcoming change has only made my life healthier and better suited for me.


I often think about the future, so I’ve had many thoughts about what my life would be like. The thing is, my life is nothing like how I imagined, but I’m also happier than I ever had been or could have imagined.


I used to view change as a failure. Things don’t work, and I try something new, but instead of accepting that it wasn’t the right fit, I told myself I failed. My internal dialogue matters, and how I view changed affects how I view the situation.


My dream job was to be a therapist, but I now understand that allowing myself to do that would likely kill me. Instead, I chose my health and caring for myself. Since then, I’ve tried many things: nannying, dog walking, and blogging on Instagram about my mental health. None of them was a good fit. I quickly got burnt out, and my day to day was not suitable for maintaining my health.


Now I see my dream job as being the best daughter, friend, wife, and someday mother I can be. Because if I don’t put my health first, I cannot fully be present in my relationships.


I still work because it keeps me busy and allows me to somewhat feel like a functioning member of society. I resell clothing that is either donated to me or I have rescued from the thrift store. It may not be what I envisioned for my life, but I see the importance of what I do. Reselling keeps me productive, gets me out of the house, and brings me joy. I feel good about my work because it reduces waste and extends the lifetime of clothing. How I’m currently living fits, so it doesn’t really matter if it’s what I thought id be doing or not.


I wish I’ve reached the point in life where I can readily welcome change, but I understand it’s a lifelong process. Change feels uncomfortable, but what comes from it is often right.

Reconnecting

This year has been stressful, to say the least; slowly, I stopped doing what made me feel healthy and like myself. Now I’m reconnecting with myself, my body, and my mind.


It’s easy for me to float through life, not present and numb. If I don’t take care of myself, time passes without me, and I lose touch with who I am.


I now know myself well enough to understand my needs and how to reconnect when I’m feeling lost. I have a list of things I need to do daily to stay healthy and connected. As requested by my new therapist, I am tracking these behaviors to keep myself accountable.


Each day I write, read, move, and take my meds.


Writing helps me process my thoughts and emotions. It clears my head of all the unhelpful thoughts that have been ruminating through my mind. My life feels more purposeful after I process, and because of this, I journal daily.


More recently, I have incorporated reading into my daily routine. I often read before bed as a way to relax and clear my mind. Although, I have noticed the more frequently I read, the greater my desire to read. I now find myself taking breaks throughout my day to read a chapter or two. Additionally, reading strengthens the brain, supporting healthy brain cells, unlike watching TV, which kills brain cells.


Movement is also an essential part of my routine. It connects my mind to my body and releases the endorphins I desperately need. Running and yoga are my go-to activities, but something as simple as a walk has the same benefits.


Taking my medication may be simple, but it is a prominent part of my routine, but it is also the most important. My meds stabilize my mood, making it easier for me to accomplish what I need to and can for myself more effectively. Even missing one day can offset my whole week.


Even with the weather getting colder and the amount of sunlight decreasing, I feel stable and comfortable. Not every day is a ‘good day,’ but I also don’t expect it to be. I no longer sit in my feelings; instead, I complete my daily routine, even when I don’t feel like it. Every day seems to have a purpose, no matter how small it may be.

One Day

One day you’ll look at your life and recognize that you’ve reached a point in recovery that you have been working toward all these years.


Last year was a year of change. I considered moving, left grad school, got engaged, built jobs I feel capable of handling, and began to write about my experience with mental illness.


A year ago, I would not have imagined this growth. I can fight through my bad days and still have good come from it. I can process and talk about my thoughts and emotions without believing them. I have healed, something I did not see possible.


I hope you recognize your strength and growth. I hope you understand that you can fight. One day you will look at your life and realize you have reached the point you have been waiting for – health and happiness.