Seeing in grey…

Recovery in mental illness is hard.

It’s not like a physical injury that can be seen. There is no casino splints, nothing visual that clues people in that something is wrong. Mental illness is all internal.

Mental illness is painful. It affects relationships. It makes you question your own abilities and confidence. For significant mental illness there is no magic medication that cures it, the medications available mainly helping manage symptoms.

Mental illness has a vast spectrum of how well a sufferer can function. As far as the illnesses I deal with go I am somewhat fortunate, because I am more functional than a lot of people with more significant illnesses. Don’t get me wrong, the diagnoses I deal with can significantly impair my ability to function. Still, my functional time is increasing, and the amount of time I spend in crisis is decreasing.

The reason for the improvement is that I put in the work and I take my medications. Even with the improvements, not every day is a good day, and even on the good days I need to stay within my limitations.

Working a 40-hour week, week after we is out. I can’t work night shifts anymore, because they mess with my sleep, which in turn messes with my moods and emotions. The limitations are frustrating, but they are what I have to do in order to remain as healthy as I can be.

The unfortunate thing with mental illness recovery is that there is no finish line. There is no significant marker that says ‘you are cured.’ Instead, mentally illness recovery is a grind where one puts in the work day after day to live the best life possible.

Just like in recovery from substance abuse, setbacks can happen. They are not a flaw. They are not a failure. They are a fact of dealing with the illness. The last couple of weeks I have been struggling have been a setback, and as frustrating as the fatigue and emotional roller-coaster has been, I need to look at the positives.

Even in this low period, I’ve still maintained my productivity. In spite of the urges, I have pushed past the thoughts of suicide and self harm. A couple years ago, this likely wouldn’t be the case, so I need to acknowledge that fact, and celebrate the victories while still acknowledging the setbacks.

Being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, I struggle with all or nothing thinking. Things in my world are either black or white, and I have had to teach myself how to see in shades of grey. The fact that I’m still able to, despite the storm that rages inside, tells me truly how far I have come.

I’m weathering the storm, and it’s beginning to fade into calmer sees again. I’ve learned a lot in my journey, and I continue to learn more and function better all the time. I am definitely making progress on this journey.

Kevin

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