By Jessica Louise Hill
Recovering from any mental health issue is a lot of work, and it can be an ongoing challenge. Personally, I am working on recovering from depression and anxiety and have experienced the absolute frustration of setbacks in recovery.
“There are always ups and downs.”
It can be difficult to fully accept that recovery involves ups and downs. Some days can feel as if you’re back where you started and that recovery is some sort of unattainable and distant dream. Sometimes, it can even feel as if you’re even worse than you were before you started working on your recovery. You can feel helpless, hopeless and very disheartened. This is normal and nothing to be ashamed of. However, the most important thing is that you push through these setbacks and don’t lose sight of your goal. To give up completely is never the right option!
“But I was doing so well!”
You could have had a good habit going and completely lost it. You could have had a record period of time where you felt absolutely content, just to fall back into a low mood again. For any kind of goal, big or small, getting off-track is a pain. No matter how tempting it is, or how hard starting again seems, giving up on these good habits completely is also not the way forward. As soon as you are able to, try getting back on track with your recovery. Rebuild those habits and keep it going! We all have our bad days but it is down to us to not let them get in our way. The sooner you get back on track, the easier it will be to fall back into healthy habits and sustain them.
Give Yourself a Break
Sometimes, you have to give yourself a day off. A day to truly address all of your emotions and problems. A day to acknowledge those feelings and cry or write about them or speak to someone you trust about them. Recovery isn’t about binning all of your negative feelings, shoving them to the side and pretending they’re not there. Suppression can often make things much more difficult in the long run.
Although recovery can take many forms, learning to live with your emotions, to cope with them and not allowing them to derail you, can be a healthy and successful road to getting better. In order to accept your negative feelings and emotions, sometimes it is necessary just to take time to acknowledge that they are there. This does not make you weak. In fact, it can make you stronger. By learning to handle your emotions with strength and without fear, you are in control. By learning more about yourself, you will be able to know how you best cope with your emotions. Everybody is different and copes uniquely. By taking the time to listen to what your mind and body needs, you can find what works best for you.
Setbacks can feel so draining and irritating, and can often feel like a bigger problem than they truly are. However, they are temporary. Patience is a trait which I have had to work on in my own recovery. When I started to take antidepressants, it took a while and a couple of GP appointments to work out the best dosage for me. At first I felt worse, then the same with a few more panic attacks thrown in, and then finally I started to feel the positive effects of my medication. It took a lot of patience to deal with these setbacks in my recovery but getting through to the other side and back on track was the best feeling! Patience can help you to sail through setbacks knowing that things will improve given the time and attention they need.
Changing Your Approach
If something isn’t entirely working for you, and hasn’t been for a long while, you may need to change your recovery approach. Believe me, I know this can be super frustrating and tiring when you are seemingly trying as hard as you can. I started with talking therapy, something that I was very comfortable with as a psychology student. However, after about 10 months I knew that it wasn’t enough and just wasn’t getting me to where I felt I needed to be. To where I am right now. So, despite my reservations about drug therapies, I decided to go to the GP and talk about antidepressants. Taking these whilst also attending therapy sessions has changed my life.
Medication isn’t for everyone and some people may start taking antidepressants before deciding that they want to seek alternative methods of recovery. However you go about your recovery is completely personal and up to you. Just don’t be afraid to try different methods when your current method isn’t working! Something out there will work for you, it might just take some time to find the right fit.
Jessica is a second year psychology student, originally from North Wales. She can often be found writing on her personal blog or diligently planning in her notebooks. She likes to write optimistically about recovery and realistically about the struggles of mental health issues, often drawing from her own experiences.