"Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am." (The Message Bible)
"Why don't they ever tell us that we can recover?
Why don't they ever tell that us that we can be well?
My doctor and therapist never told me that my symptoms can go into remission and that I can be really well!
It's true, because I am!"
These were the words said by a peer a few days ago in a conversation about dynamics with mental health clinicians. I am grateful to have a mental health professional team that I trust, but so many people don't. If you are uninsured, you have to take what you can get and often these clinicians are over worked, under paid, and burnt out. They don't have time to share hope anymore.
In case your doctor or nurse or case worker or therapist or social worker doesn't say it, I will:
You can recover from mental health challenges.
You can be well.
You can go into remission from mental health challenges and substance abuse and experience a life worth living.
Will there be more hard times too? Of course.
Will you relapse or lapse? Most likely, but each time you will come back even stronger and this will build up resiliency. Life will get better more and more often.
Life is like a roller coaster - sometimes we are on the top of the hill and sometimes we are hurtling down in a stomach turning rocket. The one constant in life is change and your roller coaster keeps on going. At first, riding the roller coaster is very scary but after a while, you start to get used to it. In fact, you eventually feel thrilled and excited by the twists and turns - it's a hard experience, but it's also an adventure. You learn that you are strong and can keep on going. You scream and laugh. You swear that you will never take another risk again, but then discover that you are standing back in line to ride another adventure roller coaster ride.
My life has gotten better since I started thinking of my life as a grand adventure. Sometimes it sucks, but there are always changes that surprise me and keep me going. There are new lands to discover and people to greet. There are new lessons learned and exciting foods to try.
I am well, although still disabled. Most days I feel pretty good and I accomplish a lot. This triumph comes from knowing myself and from taking care of myself. I take my medication; I balance sleep and food; I create art. I participate in many communities and I both receive and provide support to others. The only reason why I still say that I am disabled is because my wellness comes with stipulations. If I worked the hours of a full-time employee, I would probably not be as well as I am. I have to take extra care of myself so that I will not be burnt out and exhausted-rather a lot like the social worker who no longer can provide hope! I believe there are many people who are not well in positions of power.
Being well requires a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck, but it can be done.
And...sometimes it can't. Sometimes we can't sleep no matter how hard we try-our bodies hurt and from no fault of our own, we are not well.
It's also true that we can be well.
If you are struggling right now, take comfort in the fact that life is change. You will get better. You will fly up and then hurtle towards the ground in a free fall - you will laugh and scream. You will learn and grow stronger. If no one has told you this lately, then let it be me:
You can be well.
You can recover.
You can possess a life worth living.
At a recent blog-to-book workshop with recovery authors Bicchiere Alta and Ashley Smith. (left to right)
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