Recovery is a journey. The journey begins the day you begin sobriety, or the day you decide to seek transformation from and treatment for whatever is holding you down. I began my journey when I sought professional treatment for my mental health condition. Life has many challenges before recovery, for sure. But life after recovery isn’t just roses and rainbows, either.
There are good days. Even great days.
There are bad days. Really bad days.
There are days at every point in between.
Living with a mental health condition is typically a lifelong journey. That doesn’t mean every day of your life will be a struggle. My depression started at age fifteen, went away for about three years, came back for a couple more, and then was largely absent for about twelve years. It then came back with a vengeance in 2016, and that’s when I was forced to seek professional help for the first time. Since starting treatment, there are more good days than bad. But there are bad days for sure.
The past ten days or so have been bad. All the negative feelings and thoughts came back to surface. I feel worthless and full of shame, not for anything in particular, but for who I am. I have constant desires to be dead. “Suicidal ideation” – thinking of or having a preoccupation with suicide – is something I struggle with. I’ve gone back to old thoughts of believing everybody in my life would be better off without me. As I’m driving, I’ll see a truck and wish it would run a light and hit me. I go to bed and hope that I don’t wake up in the morning. When I wake up, I feel a mixture of anger and frustration with God for keeping me alive. The feelings of depression cause constant mental pain, and relieving the pain with a drug or death seems desirable. This is my depression.
Before you get worried about me, read on. Things are different now. Before I got treatment, I had no hope. I was temporarily relieving the mental pain with drugs and had made a firm decision that the only permanent way out was suicide. There was no hope, no end to the pain in sight, and no other option. Now I have hope. Treatment has given me good days and great days. But the bad days do come and go. My depression comes in cycles and as of late has been fairly predictable. The lows typically last about a week, and today I feel like I’m at the end of this ten day cycle. Even during the down cycles I have hope!
Hope for me is knowing there are good days ahead. It’s knowing that when I’m depressed, it will not last forever. I have recent memories of good days, and can look forward to seeing them again soon. What gives me hope? It’s all the ways I seek treatment. It’s especially the support community I have around me. I’m brutally honest with people. When I’m asked how I’m doing, I’ll tell them the truth. And when the answer is, “not good,” they reassure me that they are there for me and that it will get better.
You will often hear me say, “recovery is a journey.” What I mean is that there will be good days but also bad days and challenges. I believe God can heal, and I believe there are instances when medication alone can send mental health conditions into remission. But typically, there is no “magic pill” or instant cure. Don’t let that discourage you. If you are struggling in recovery, don’t lose hope. There are many good days ahead! Your treatment plan may have to change, but don’t give up.
When my mood goes up, I know that it will likely come back down. I live one day at a time enjoying the good days that God gives me, and I persevere through the bad days with hope. Hope knowing that what goes down must also go back up.