I know the road of recovery is not a straight shot road. I do consider myself in recovery–not recovered–as the process of recovery requires conscious awareness, medication and therapy compliance, and taking the time to practice self-care. Set-backs will occur sometimes, regardless of just how diligent I try to be. For me, there are no guarantees for the depression, anxiety and PTSD, just the willingness and commitment to be healthy. And for great chunks of time, I am doing great
I am not filled with “gloom and doom” of my mental health diagnoses, but rather do my best to understand what it will require of me to not let these illnesses consume and/or dictate my life.
Currently, I am simply in one of those times where the emotional toll of experiencing life unfolding around me is chipping away at my own coping skills. I am a bit tired, and feeling a bit thwarted, by the resurgence of old symptoms.
I have been working closely with my therapist, but this therapist does not live with me 24/7. It is up to me to comply with adjustments, getting more sleep, watching the stress levels, and when to just go out and take a walk. And sometimes I don’t want to go out for a walk. Sometimes I just cry it out instead. This is okay too, as it releases the pressure cooker going on in my head.
Nevertheless, a resurgence of old belief systems does require for me to check-in with my therapist. It means being ever so more closely watchful of what I am thinking, telling myself, and obtaining the support I require. I do not always like sharing the truth with my therapist, but I know this is the only way to move through such times to receive the guidance and care required to make these moments as temporary as possible. (Knowing a set-back is only temporary is what keeps my hope for healthy and productive living alive.)
I do not want to back slide, I want to keep moving forward! However, given my current state of exhaustion (physical and emotional) this does set up me for increased vulnerability for negative self-talk.
And all this leads me to where I am currently standing. The resurgence of the old belief symptoms that are showing up for me is feeling stupid. I know rationally that I am an intelligent woman, but I can so easily slide back into trusting the wrong people. Yes, some people can be deceptive and manipulative and this may not always be recognized right away. That is not where my feelings of stupid come into play. For me, it is when I begin to bypass the “red flags” and rationalize them away. I allow my desire to give others the benefit of the doubt over my own intuition.
This behavior pattern of mine–not trusting what I believe to be true as well as my feelings about a particular subject or person–began early. I would be told that my feelings and perceptions were off, and then was told the “correct” interpretation instead. This happened often enough that I discarded any gut instincts I had because I was always told they were wrong. This belief system stayed with me all the way into my 30s. And when I am vulnerable, I can slide back again and allow my desire to give others the benefit of the doubt over my own intuition. And I will do this over and over and over and not be fully aware of it.
Not being in full conscious awareness of each detail of my behavior is still disconcerting, still a frightening thought for me. Sometimes I need another to point it out. I do not like that I can still experience blind spots when it comes to my well-being. It happens, and it may not be as serious as it has been in the past, but it still exists. Sometimes I am so embarrassed by my “trust” of the wrong person that I feel shame. And this spirals me right back to feeling stupid for not recognizing all that is occurring around and within me.
Right now, I am watching my self-talk. If I hear myself saying, “You are so stupid to have not seen that!” I need to pull my full body weight into the present. Not an easy thing to do. Trusting another is not a bad thing; it is when the trust in front of me has been betrayed over and over and I keep going, apologizing for misunderstandings. Good glory! Getting “caught” in an old pattern or belief system is rough. Yes, I know that once my awareness catches up, I will be okay and will be able to rectify the situation at hand. It is the rectifying where my humility comes into play, my acute notice of my past, and I how I may fall into patterns that are not good so easily. The good part of this is that I have support systems in place (family, friends and professionals) to tell me what I am not noticing.
Each time a blind spot hits again, it gets a little easier to handle it, set it right, and pursue healthy movement forward. Quite frankly, I do not like my blind spots, but they still exist. My saving grace is the support I surround myself with.
I still consider myself in recovery. If I were not in recovery, I would not see this slip into old patterns and beliefs as a temporary issue to be addressed. It is not a collapsing of all I have created up to this point for health. I just got off at an unhealthy exit, and need to get back on the road for health and well-being again.
It is a reminder of how my past may still influence my present, and that I do not like. I want to be in control of my illnesses as best as I am able, and sometimes things like this show up. I need to not berate myself, but see it for what it is, and continue forward. As time passes, I do become stronger, more aware, and more conscious. But some things will slide right in without my noticing. I don’t like it, but because there is still a proclivity for this, this is why I am still within the care of professionals. I will be over this "feeling stupid’ sooner rather than later, and this is only due to the support I have in place. Thank goodness.
Recovery in mental illness is not an easy thing to accomplish. Doing the very best you know how, with the support of professionals (as well as others) is a definite step in the right direction. I adamantly refuse to allow a slip or a blind spot to send me spiraling backward, and this is my testament to being in recovery. My mental illnesses are not all that I am–they just show up sometimes.
Kimberly wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Anxiety Disorders.