From Princess of Tides
I am currently recovering from depression, and I’d like to share some thoughts with you that others shared with me before and that I found helpful.
When I am depressed my thinking switches into black and white. All or nothing. I tend to think that I am either going to fully recover, or not at all. This belief can be so strong that it takes away the ground under my feet. However, I think it is false.
In my experiences, recovery is a process. It may not have a clear beginning or end. It may start a while before you notice it is happening, and you may never be entirely sure that you’ve reached the end. Recovery is an experience that unfolds gradually over time. In that sense I think recovering from depression is different from recovering from an illness like the flu. There is no blood test or fever level that can mark a definite point in time when the patient is declared to have recovered. Sure, a psychiatrist may argue that you are no longer “clinically depressed” based on how you score on depression questionnaire, but in reality, we don’t go to bed with depression one night and wake up the next morning without it. Or at least I don’t.
I can say with confidence that I am recovering. It is much more daunting to declare that I have recovered.
One of my many therapists, Mr G, was the one who taught me about this. He told me to focus on the process rather than the desired outcome. I spent a lot of time despairing when I wondered whether I would ever recover. “I will never recover, so what’s the point? I can’t do this any more”, is what I used to think. It took a seven-week stay in a psychiatric hospital that offered intensive therapy for me to start directing my attention towards what I could do right now, in that moment, in order to continually remain recovering.
I have printed off the word “process” in big letters and put it up above my desk. It is easy to forget. When I am having a bad day, I sometimes think that I have failed. That this is it. Recovery over. I used to think that being recovered means having climbed onto a very high beam. Once you’ve made it there, you are on top of the world. The view will be spectacular. But you can fall off in an instance and you end up at the very bottom, broken.
I don’t think it is like that any more. Recovery is more like a steady climb along a winding path up a mountain. I can’t see the end, but that’s not really that important. Why focus on imagining what the view might be like when I finally get there? These days I try to focus on every step as I am taking it, and on what the view is like right now. Some days I walk faster than others. Some days I need to rest and see where I am. Some days I might stumble backwards a few steps. But that doesn’t mean I have fallen off the beam. I am still on the same road of recovery. I know this because even though every setback hurts, I no longer think that all is lost. I remember I am still on that road, and I can take steps forward again. Knowing this is my recovery.
Princess of Tides
Here is a link to Princess of Tides' blog