When people talk about recovery it’s most commonly used when talking about alcoholism, or drug addiction. Only since the start of my own recovery journey did I hear it used in conversations about mental health.
1 .a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.
Being in recovery is something I have heard hundreds of times over the last 18 months. Being recovered? Not so much. Battling mental health issues is like battling any chronic sickness, do you ever get better? Or do you just learn to survive it? Do we just learn how to numb ourselves from the pain the best we can. Like living with a broken hand, do we just learn to write with the other side?
The brain is a mysterious thing. Growing up I can think about times where I felt alone, anxious, worried that everyone was going to leave me. I can remember spending nights in my room crying, wondering if I was the only person who felt the way I did. But I had a good childhood, parents who loved me, food to eat, a home – well, numerous homes, but all the same; my sister and I, we grew up pretty normal. After Seamus was was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis the anxiety got worse. The need to control things around me, everything around me, grew much larger than I had ever thought possible. It left me in a constant state of anxiety, like I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop.. nothing I did fixed it. I went through periods of cleaning my house so thoroughly you could eat dinner off the kitchen floor, to not being able to get out of bed and face the day. When I was up I was SO high, but then, as it always does, when I finally came down it was a steep dive into a hole so dark I couldn’t see which way was up.
Manageable at first, it was easy to play off as just being a tired new mom. Sleeping when the baby slept, eating sometimes not for days- then binging on everything in sight, leading me to put on more weight, which led me to not wanting to leave the house; and then one day, I blinked – it was 6 years later and to say I was drowning is putting it lightly.
One day I looked in the mirror and I didn’t recognize the girl staring back at me- what was there, what was left was barely a shadow of my old self. I remember studying my face, trying to catch glimpses of a smile, or a sparkle.. something familiar, anything at all. But, nothing. I had completely lost myself, and for awhile I thought I would never find her again — sometimes I still think I won’t. Not the old me anyway. I think when you go through trauma, when you come out the other side of something that should have torn you to pieces you are never the same. I don’t think that the old me exists anymore, outside of pictures and a faint memory I have of some resemblance of normalcy.
In recovery. That’s where I have spent the last 18 months, that’s where I am now, and I am not sure what is on the other side, if there is another side – maybe this is it, maybe I just try and survive each day, maybe this is the new me. I still have days where I look in the mirror and am not sure if I know that girl… I have days where I am so high I feel like I can conquer the world- and the fall that comes after the high is still just as intense, but I am still here, and sometimes that is the best I can do.