By Tom Wavre
Recently I have been fortunate enough to start a strong period of recovery from my depression and anxiety. It has been a long journey to get to where I am today, the fight has often been hard but I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel – or perhaps the light between tunnels. Either way the air is slightly fresher here and the light doesn’t seem to be an oncoming train! I’ve been in recovery before, and I’ve lapsed badly after about a year. That experience, things I’ve learnt from running this site, the experience and knowledge of others and tips from my therapist means I am far better equipped for this process than before. I know now the things I need to remember during recovery.
Things You Should Remember During Recovery
Recovery isn’t linear
An often said thing but when you start recovering it is easy to forget. When you start feeling that optimism of leaving your depressive state, your mind can be fixated on getting and staying in that golden state of happiness. So much so that you forget there will be bumps in the road.
A bad day does not mean your recovery is failing
No human is happy the entire time, the bumps are normal, they are to be expected and are a sign you’re still a human. Notice the bad emotions, allow them to be there and do not obsess about them. It’s ok to feel crap when you are recovering
Allow the negative emotions in
Previously I have been in the habit of ignoring and shunning any bad emotion when on an upward curve. I think that if I acknowledge it I will fall bad into depression. The truth is if I continue to bury and ignore these emotions they will come back and bite me harder at a future date.
Remember why you’re recovering
For me, amongst other things, that means remember that I’m not a failure. I am worthy, that others have as many doubts as me, not to compare myself with others etc etc. On the harder days this will help see you through. If you get forget the fundamental truth that you have been struggling for so many years with you risk allowing the door to open and the negativity to return.
You don’t need to do it alone
Accept help, talk, sit in silence, be with someone. Whatever it takes, you don’t have to do it alone. Get your feelings and emotions out, allow yourself to be you and allow others to help you remember who that is and how to get back to there.
Don’t fight your emotions, as mentioned don’t shun them. However, don’t embrace them or obsess for hours over why they are there. Don’t question if this is the new normal, or if things have failed. Just allow yourself to notice the emotions and nothing more. Notice what the intrusive thought is. This takes a little practice but is liberating once you manage it. Often now when a negative thought appears I might think ‘that’s interesting that I would look at it like that’ and I continue with my day. Sometimes that is harder than others but I’m certainly sticking with it.
Give yourself a break
Both in terms of time alone, time doing what you want and giving yourself some slack. I don’t need to be perfect, I can fail and I can get on with it and do it again. Criticism is still something I don’t like but some of the sting is taken out of it now.
Relearn what you love
A major concern for me during my depression was that fact I had lost interest in everything. I no longer knew if I didn’t enjoy that thing and had out grown it or if my depression was sucking my enjoyment of it. Listen to your desires as you begin to recover. Your likes and dislikes might have changed a bit since you were last in a good place. If you’ve been depressed for years a number of them almost certainly will have. Listen to what excites you and motivates you now and do those things (as long as they’re legal!)
This is huge for me usually but somehow in this recovery period I have allowed, happily, for the process to take its time and go slowly. Try to force it and it can go wrong. I am sitting back, knowing I am on the right path and trying to just appreciate being on that path rather than rushing to the end of it
It may strike again
Just because you are recovered does not mean you are cured for life. Knowing this makes it far easier for you if depression does return. It means you can be ready, equipped with knowledge and tools. This will help you fight it off, help reduce the impact and keep you in a better state of mind.
I wish the best of luck to anyone currently in recovery. I hope those of you who aren’t that you find your way to recovery soon. It isn’t easy, it isn’t straight forward. However, with the right tools and reminding yourself of the right messages it can be a great place to be.