October 10th, World Mental Health Day, marked three years since I started this blog. A lot has changed over that time, but sadly not enough.
Personally, I would say that I have grown in my recovery. I have learned more about myself, my mental illnesses, and about mental health in general. I have learned new coping strategies, and developed new support networks. I am thankful for all of this.
Of course, as I have grown, it seems my mental illnesses have evolved, causing new wounds to arise once old ones start to heal. I have come a long way, but one’s journey in recovery is often long, full of unexpected twists and turns, unforeseen bumps and valleys. And I know I still have a long way to go in my recovery, but I am more accepting of that than I have been in the past.
And of course, all of this personal growth has occurred against the back drop of society’s stigma surrounding mental illness, which I admit has gotten better as more people open up about their experiences with things like depression, anxiety, PTSD, and schizophrenia. Yet too many still stay silent. Too many still judge those living with mental illness, causing those that stay silent to suffer in their silence. More than anything, this needs to change.
And this reflection over the last three years isn’t a report card. It isn’t a progress report. Like I said, my journey in recovery is going to be a long road, as is the case for most of us living with mental illness. Reflecting on that journey gives us a chance to appreciate where we’ve been, but few of us know where we are going. Similarly, society has so much further to go as well, but again, no one knows what that is going to look like.
I can only hope that in a year, five years, or even ten years that when we pause to reflect we will all be in a better place.