Living with a mental illness and living in recovery from mental illness is not a linear journey. There are good days and bad days, peaks and valleys if you will. And understanding those peaks and valleys is important.
Early on, when I was first starting to work with a therapist and take my medication, I used to think I was better at every peak, only to find myself feeling so defeated when the valleys came. There were several times I walked out of my therapist’s office feeling great and thinking I was done with therapy. Only to find myself back at the therapist a few months later. Because at the time I didn’t understand my own journey in recovery and the ups and downs that can come with them.
And I say this as we head into the heart of the holiday season. And it can be a joyous time for many. It can also be a difficult time when people who had been living well in their recovery find themselves slipping back down the mountain, slipping into the valley and darkness of another depressive episode. I’ve been there. That doesn’t make you a failure. It just makes you human. It is part of living with a mental illness, but it does not define you any more than the illness or illnesses themselves do.
And for me, learning to understand these peaks and these valleys has helped me understand myself better. Now, I am able to recognize the warning signs as I approach a drop-off, a descent into the valley if you will.
It isn’t pleasant, but viewing our trips into the valley as a chance to understand our demons better offers a chance to have more time atop our peaks.