Treat Mental Health Recovery As a Choose Your Own Adventure Series

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Know this: what is happening to you, you did not choose it.

You did not stand in front of a collection of mischievous circumstances and select the one that would do you the most possible harm.

No one made you choose between two extremes of a single emotion. No one told you things had to be this way, or else.

Yet some of your friends look at you and wonder why you can’t just be happier, or braver, or stronger or more confident or less obsessive over the most insignificant things.

You know they do. Even if they never say it to your face, you’re certain.

“It’s a choice,” they’ll say. “You’re not a child. Choose.”

They don’t understand that it doesn’t work like that. They don’t get how much you wish you could make that kind of choice.

Yet it feels that way, doesn’t it? That’s okay. It’s normal.

Issues related to mental health try to take away your freedom to decide.

They’re like the antagonist you never invited to the virtual party.

It isn’t that you want to stop doing the things you like to do. It’s more like you’ve thought too hard about why you should continue doing it, and can’t find a reason to keep doing it. Right?

It isn’t that you don’t want things to be the way they used to be. It’s just harder to imagine that they ever will be.

When you’re really struggling, on your worst days, it sometimes feels like your ability to make choices has disappeared.

The simplest of questions become impossible to answer. People around you get frustrated. They can’t see inside your head. They don’t understand why it’s so hard for you.

That’s not their fault. It’s not your fault.

Feeling this way, it seems as though someone has taken all your power away, leaving you with nothing to protect you.

But you are not powerless. You can still make choices.

You can choose to be honest about how you are feeling today instead of saying you’re fine when you aren’t.

You can choose the route that makes you feel the safest.

You can pick the song that plays as you drive.

You are allowed to say, “No, I don’t want this.” You have permission to say, “I don’t want to talk about this right now.”

Those who care about you and care about your health and well-being will respect your decisions. They will support you.

They will choose you.

Recovery is about re-training your mind to be confident enough to make choices again. Small ones at first, but still choices.

It was a lie before, when you thought you weren’t good enough to make your own choices. You were then and you are now.

Think of your life as a Choose Your Own Adventure video game.

Tomorrow you will wake up and be presented with a series of choices. Every decision you make leads to a different outcome.

It is up to you to make as many small, positive choices tomorrow as you can. And the best part? You get to decide what those choices are.

They can be simple, like what you’re going to wear.

They can be harder, like whether or not you’re going to raise your hand in class to answer that question you know the answer to (you know it).

Each new choice you make is like earning experience points toward a healthier mind. Every day you wake up is like a new opportunity to earn more points and start to feel in control of your decisions again.

Even better, in your own personal Choose Your Own Adventure series, you’re the protagonist. You call the shots. You decide where the story goes next.

It’s all yours. What will you do with it?

It’s all yours. What will you do with it?