Monday, 16 May 2016

Check-in: A Mental Health Update

It’s been quite some time since I’ve written a specific update on my mental health. Having been caught up in my monthly resolutions, an update didn’t seem to fit in with the themes. But this is Don’t Rush month, and pausing to reflect is precisely what this resolution is all about.

As I type this I am slowly recovering from a case of the summer cold. Mysterious in ways like the man-flu, the summer cold is one of those lesser spotted juxtapositions of life. My chesty cough and sore throat came at precisely the moment when the weather was spectacular and I had plans to make the most of the outdoors. Typical.

How I spent my Sunday

I spent the weekend indoors, away from the sun, hoping to heal. I hate being unproductive but illness rendered me so and there was nothing I could do but accept that fact. Unusually for me, my mood was not altered by my lack of productivity. Normally that becomes a trigger for me – the need to keep going, to keep busy, to constantly create, motivates me to the point of burnout.

In fact, apart from some mild anxiety last Friday, May has been a month of positive mental health. My moods have not altered dramatically; steadily tracked in my daily mood tracker to be in and around the same level each day.  I actually sat down to write this update and thought, ‘what’s the point? My mental health has been boring all month?’ Boring because it’s actually been going well.

But why don’t we celebrate the good more? Why do I feel prone to only remarking on my mental health when it has been poor?

These past two weeks are the first two weeks that I can recall waking up every single day feeling happy and positive. I wake up early and it grounds me with a good start for the day. I feel strong, healthy. Perhaps even at times ‘normal’; as I think one should feel if they didn’t have a mental illness looming over them.

But maybe feeling healthy is the new normal for me? What if this is who I am now? Is it too soon to get my hopes up?

Yes, it is too soon. I still find myself grasping for this notion of ‘recovery’; hoping to be cured. I know that I shouldn’t feel like that, I know there is nothing wrong with being mentally ill forever, with having depression and anxiety until the day I die. I know that not everyone can be fully recovered. I know that me hoping for recovery is self-stigmatising. I know all of that.

And yet...
And yet I still wish.

But this is recovery. This is me getting better. Improving. Recovering. Day-by-day, week-by-week, and month-by-month.

Am I in a better place than I was this time last year?

Am I in a better place than I was this time last month?

Slowly but surely I am winning back ground, gaining an advantage over the greatest foe of them all. I keep going, I keep surviving. This is progress.

This is what recovery looks like.

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