Rachel discusses how vital recovery is after battling a mental health illness…
In recent years mental health has slowly become a recognised issue. For someone who has battled with mental disorders for a number of years, I have watched as society has become more accepting and understanding towards those struggling with mental illness. Although a massive amount of progress has been made, I think a major part of the subject is still overlooked – recovery.
Many people perceive that there is a limited route that can be taken in order to become ‘well’ again, in the form of therapy and/or medication. What is predominantly not taken into consideration is that no two people recover in the same way. Just as each person has a unique fingerprint, each person’s way of dealing with their disorder is unique also.
In my experience, after attending years of therapy with a number of different people and places, I found myself sinking into a deeper, darker pit. Medical professionals would tell me repeatedly I either wasn’t willing or trying or ready to recover and that I had to go away and come back when I was. I remember thinking ‘But I was ready. I found help. I wanted to get better. When and why has this changed?’ After leaving I was convinced that since therapy didn’t work, I would never recover. What took a long time to realise, was that I was more than ready and capable of recovery, therapy just wasn’t the way I was going to achieve this.
When I began taking time to focus on myself and process how I felt, I started looking into mindfulness. Although commonly associated with religions such as Buddhism, to me mindfulness is about self-improvement, having a deeper understanding, appreciation and respect for life. And why shouldn’t you strive to become the best version of yourself?
After finding an app, featuring guided meditation sessions for both beginners and the more advanced, I started experimenting for a few days, slowly I began being able to switch off my thought processes and even just for a minute through the sessions, I could just sit – not clouded by damaging thoughts or a whirlwind of emotions. I could just sit feeling relaxed and at peace even in complete silence.
Throughout the sessions, I learnt one of the most important lessons I feel everyone with or without mental health illness should know – it is okay to feel the way you do – good or bad. Now I adapt this into my daily life and am able to accept and observe my feelings but then move past anything negative or embrace and enjoy the positive. The negative thoughts now don’t control my life, although they are still there and very much present, I am in control. I get to choose.
No one should ever be told they aren’t trying or willing or it’s impossible. Recovery is one of the most difficult challenges anyone can face. It’s important to understand that just because conventional routes don’t work for you; it doesn’t mean that nothing will. Pave your own path; the very fact that you’ve chosen to recover or have reached out proves that you are more than capable no matter how it is achieved. It is possible. Just as your fingerprint is unique, so will your journey through recovery.