Reminder: Healing is Never Linear
It’s been five years since I was first diagnosed with major depressive disorder or clinical depression.
And, more than a year has passed since my quest to find a psychiatrist who will not tell me directly that I don’t have ADHD because I hold a Master’s degree. Even though I’ve made progress in coping with my depression, I wouldn’t say that I’m totally recovered. The black dog of despair is always lurking around the corner, ready to snatch and propelled me to the dark tunnel.
Trigger Warning: Mention of Suicide
Instead of admitting defeat, I realized that I may have been in a perpetual healing process my entire life.
During the spring of 2019, after a suicide attempt, I voluntarily checked myself into Southcoast Behavioral Health in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, a psychiatric facility. My roommate is a lady in her 40s, who in the middle of the night, would start shouting obscenities in her sleep. The first time she asked how old I was, she indicated that if I had gotten admitted that young, she would have seen me back in the hospital multiple times. I was shocked. I had no desire to remain there ever again. It was a horrific experience that did nothing but exacerbate my mental instability. Fortunately, my stay in the unit was only a week due to Massachusetts’ policy of allowing voluntary admissions to be discharged after a week.
As soon as I was out of there, I went to see my therapist and told her what my roommate had said to me. My psychiatrist also told me that I should prepare myself to be on antidepressants for the foreseeable future. At first, I was dejected, but she reassured me that I shouldn’t see it as a setback. My trigger point is weaker than that of most mentally healthy people, according to her, and she added that it is usual for persons who have relapsed more than twice to undergo another relapse again.
Step one in healing is acknowledging your pain.
My psychiatrist recommended that I consult a psychologist soon after so that I could better understand my trigger and learn how to manage with it. Hence, my healing path began, and it continues to this day. For the past few years, I’ve suffered from occasional lapses. But, instead of relapsing into despair, I can now recognize the things that set me off and stop me from spiraling out of control. As a result of seeing a psychologist, I’ve learned how to better cope with stressful situations. Instead of shutting down, I learn when to take a break and how to convey my difficulties.
Introspection and self-discovery
Anyone who has struggled with mental illness knows how tiring it can be to experience a relapse in their condition. There is a sense that you are trapped in an eternal cycle with little possibility of ever escaping it. Then, just when you think you’re on the road to recovery, something happens to set you off, and you find yourself falling back into old habits, no matter how well you understand the causes of your problems and the triggers that set you off. In my daily existence, I am continuously going through the motions, healing from any hurt that may arise, and then repeating the cycle time and time again. Being forced to repeat the healing cycle over and over again can be stressful, and it has left me wondering if I will ever be able to reach the “completely healed” state that I so desperately want to achieve.
Despite this, I’ve come to learn that being in a perpetual state of healing is not something I should be disappointed in myself for since it propels me forward in my progress as an individual. Healing gets me to look deep within myself.
Knowing that healing is not a linear process helps me when I feel like I’m back at square one, like I was a year ago, and I hope it will help you too. Your ability to cope with adversity will continue to improve as you get stronger and stronger in the face of adversity. As part of the process, you’ll feel like you’re starting from scratch. Please keep going, don’t give up or think that all hope is gone. You’ll become better with practice. Even a year ago, I was in a much better place than I am today. It was a long, hard, and tedious procedure. It’s worth it, however, because of the mental clarity and liberation I gain.
Know that you will get there
When it comes to my mental health, I wish I could claim that everything has improved drastically. Yet, I’m far from perfect, and I’m still in the process of healing from my experiences. Writing like this sometimes make me feel like a fraud, because society pushes us to only share the beautiful happy endings and not the messy, ugly in between. However, everything that happens is a part of the journey, and I’m glad for it all since it has shaped me into the resilient and strong person that I am today. In our weaknesses and vulnerabilities, there is strength. Each difficulty is an opportunity to learn how to be a better person for ourselves as well as those with whom we share our experiences.
Being compassionate with oneself is one of the lessons I’ve learned during this ordeal. Allow yourself to be overwhelmed by the experience and remember that the road will be worthwhile in the end. We’re not flawless, and there will be slipups along the way. Every step of the process is important. The slipbacks will become fewer and further between, and you’ll gain the knowledge and skills to continue forward even stronger than you were before.
If you or someone you know exhibits symptoms of suicidal ideation or attempts and if you’re concerned and don’t know what to do, you can get help from a crisis or suicide prevention hotline.
If you live in Indonesia, try LISA Suicide Prevention Helpline (Love Inside Suicide Awareness) who provide mental health and psychosocial support services that are inclusive, covering all walks of life regardless of background. LISA service is available in Indonesian and English, and is available 24 hours.