My Relationship With… Recovery

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Recovery means something different to everybody. When my therapist leaned forward in her chair and said, “How would you feel about being discharged today?” I found myself sitting there, stunned, wondering how on earth I got here when, only a year prior, I was unable to entertain the thought of living past my next birthday. “I’d feel pretty good,” I’d replied, then, as we shook hands, “No offence, but I hope I never see you again.” We laughed, I signed some forms, and then I ambled through the city with ‘Unwritten’ by Natasha Bedingfield playing on repeat.

For me, recovery consisted of a series of small triumphs. These ranged from a psychiatrist informing me that I was no longer ‘severely’ depressed and was now nestled comfortably in the ‘moderate’ category, to staying in Oceana until closing rather than sneaking off into an Uber after having a panic attack in the toilets. I attended a small portion of my lectures and was able to somewhat focus on the lecture itself as opposed to the skin on my hands or the sound of distant laughter. I handed assignments in on time, many of which I felt genuinely proud of.

I asked the people sitting next to me in a seminar if they’d like to come to the English social with me that coming Friday, and six months later we sat drinking prosecco in my garden before the boat ball, laughing at the many memories we’d made together in that time. I emerged from my shell and began to experiment with the boundary between fun and self-destructive behaviour, which involved a particularly messy night at Stags, among countless other humiliating situations. Despite this, therapy has helped me find a happy medium which I have mostly maintained, although I can sometimes be found screeching into the microphone at karaoke on a Thursday night.

At my worst, I felt completely debilitated and unable to properly support my friends as they endured their own problems. This served as a huge motivator for me as their endless patience and understanding, along with that of my family, served as a major catalyst in my recovery process. To be able to actually help them when they needed me has been intensely rewarding.

Triumphs came in a variety of disguises. Even something as simple as glancing at the sunset in my rear view mirror as I drove home from work gave me a spark of satisfaction as I acknowledged the fact: ‘today was a really good day’. I am slowly being reacquainted with the notion of excitement, my levels of productivity are inching higher, I can admit when I deserve to be treated better and I’m cracking jokes that are (sometimes) funny.

Creativity has always served as an essential outlet for me. This year I conjured the confidence to publish my work and was overwhelmed by the response. Turns out, everybody is recovering from something. A key turning point in my recovery was when the idea of running for an editorial position crept into my mind. However, it was swiftly thwarted by my insecurities and anxiety. Nevertheless, with stubborn encouragement from my friends, I managed to achieve the previously unthinkable and overcome this. My genuine passion for my new role has also served as a motivating factor, simultaneously reminding me of my capabilities and allowing me to relish in my passion for writing.

This is by no means a fairy tale ending to a tragic story. I am still battling with my symptoms, however I am approaching a point where they no longer dictate my life. Honestly, that’s better than nothing. Recovery does not mean setting unrealistic goals for yourself or refusing to acknowledge your symptoms. Recovery means reconnecting with yourself and immersing yourself in your perpetual state of learning.

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  8. My Relationship with… The Gym
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