Wisdom Comes From Experience; Recovery Comes From Practice

August 23, 2015

Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament. Daniel 12:3

Wisdom often comes from experience and from working hard. People seem to view wisdom as something coming spontaneously and naturally, but in my experience, it is usually acquired through hardship and lots of intentional practice. I certainly do not think that one can be wise without a whole lot of self-awareness. 

 Tomorrow, a co-worker and I are sharing our recovery stories and our coping skills with an audience who have recently been diagnosed and are learning coping skills themselves. 

This is some of what I will be sharing:

Because I was impulsive and had suicidal feelings, but did not want to continue the cycle of always going to the hospital, I really had to invest my time (and money) into learning coping skills. I practiced the coping skills taught in DBT every day and I still use the skills I learned on a daily basis. Some of them are distracting myself when I feel impulsive, doing something pleasurable every day to keep my mood more pleasurable and to spend more time appreciating the world around me and the good things that are happening instead of dwelling on the bad. 

I also know how to validate myself and self-soothe myself when feeling bad. Other things I know I must do are eating fairly healthy and balanced meals, getting enough sleep, having regular “me” time, journaling out strong feelings or racing thoughts, learning how to ask for what I need, setting healthy boundaries and saying “no” when I need to, belonging to communities, such as my church and my book club, exploring my creative side and talking with people. I do see a therapist once a month and a doctor every few months. 

I have found talking about my mental health journey to be incredibly rewarding and validating. I speak at events whenever I can and write a mental health blog. Being able to talk about my experiences and help and support others is incredibly empowering and gives meaning to a time when I felt there was none. I encourage everyone to talk about their recovery with others, even if it is just one other person. Realizing that people will not run away scared when confronted with my story, but are instead impressed and inspired inspires me to keep reaching for my dreams and to keep on sharing my story. It validates that I have a story worth sharing and I firmly believe that all of you do too. 

If I could leave you with three things, it would be: practice, practice, practice. People that only have gotten to know me in the last year or two think that I have always been mentally healthy. That is absolutely not so. Becoming a healthier person has been intentional and a slow process, often very frustrating. Fortunately, over time, I have witnessed my life becoming better and better and myself becoming more and more capable at handling it. Becoming better takes a lot of practice.

 (Maybe I am able to be focused and practice more easily because of my early piano lessons. Photo by Woodleywonderworks, a creative commons license.)

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