Recovery isn’t linear.
You’ll have to bear with me on this one … I may love maths a little too much. Don’t worry, there’s pictures.
When I think about getting better and feeling more like my normal self, I think of recovery as exponential. In that, I still think that one day I will wake up and all will be good. I know this is not realistic, but I still cling to the hope that I will miraculously just not be anxious and depressed anymore. Ta da! It’s a bit like how I want a Doreamon door – a teleporter – when I am on a tedious journey; I want to skip the rubbish bit and get to the end. It’s pretty childish but a girl can dream.
Look, it’s like one day, I turn a corner and start to feel better, then by the next evening I’m me again! Healed! Recovered! Over it! In fact, I’m so much better than that! I am ROCKING LIFE!!
I’ve had to be a bit more realistic lately and managed to adjust my thinking a little. Maybe my recovery could be linear. A steady path on the road to mental wellness. Each hard and painful step I take forward edges me to my goal. Every trial and tribulation I stumble through just brings me closer to redemption and freedom from my own mind.
But lately, thinking this way has got me really down. Because I keep having bad days and thinking it’s all over. I think I must be back at the start of my journey. I’ve slid all the way back to the bottom of the slippery snake. I am at square one. The word go. If recovery is linear, then you can measure how close you are to being better by how you are feeling right now. Where am I on the graph? How far along the road to recovery am I?
Then I realised. Recovery is not linear. Or exponential. It oscillates. And jumps. Goes up and down in leaps and bounds or tiny incremental steps. Sometimes more than others. Sometimes not at all. But in essence, recovery is a mixture of successes and failures that all lead us to self-understanding and mental well-being. The more I learn about my coping mechanisms, my pitfalls and strengths, my triggers and comforts, the more I am able to navigate my own way to a positive mood rather than being led by my depression and anxiety. Sometimes I have bad days. Or weeks. Or even (like right now) bad months. But then at other times I can go from feeling demotivated in the morning to having an awesome day. One bad day doesn’t mean I haven’t made progress. One bad day doesn’t mean I won’t get better or I’m not getting better. A relapse doesn’t mean I should give up or give in.
Recovery isn’t linear.