I often tell people I live with a mental illness, but am at a stable place in my recovery. I never say I am recovered from my mental illness. And the reason I say it that way is because recovery is a journey that never ends.
Recovering from mental illness isn’t like recovering from the flu or a broken leg. It is something that is a daily process, a daily fight with the demons in my head. It is about constantly utilizing the coping strategies I have, constantly utilizing the skills that I’ve learned from therapy, and constantly remembering my medication.
And it can be exhausting.
Yet it is better than the alternative. The withdrawn insomniac who watched the world pass him by, unable to get out of bed, unable to bring himself to shower or do anything productive. And while it is exhausting, it can also be rewarding.
It can be rewarding every time my recovery allows me to get out and actually enjoy the world, instead of just watching it pass me by. It is rewarding everytime I recognize when the demons and the darkness are trying to knock me down and I just keep going, moving forward on this journey that never ends.
And there are times I hit a bump in the journey that knocks me back a few paces. And there are so many twists and turns in this journey out of the darkness. Yet along the meandering path, I find bits and pieces of myself, parts that had been lost to the darkness. i find them and I feel a little bit more whole. And that is rewarding as well.
However, the most rewarding part of my journey so far has to be where I am now in the process as a peer recovery specialist who gets to use his own journey to help others who might just be starting out on their own path to recovery.
Because while recovery is a journey that has no end, it is absolutely a journey that has a start. And it is such an important begging to undertake.
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