When you get sick or injured the first thing that everyone wants to know is how long will it be before you are better? When you have a physical injury like a broken leg the answer is easy I will have plaster for x time then I will do physio for x time and then I will be back to normal. When it is an illness that requires surgery and post surgical treatment again typically the answer is still easyish in that there is a fairly typical prognosis and failing any unforseen complications Drs can usually give you a pretty good indication of how long your recovery will take.
The thing with mental illness is that it is invisible for most people, there are rarely visible scars and there are rarely bandages around our heads to indicate that we are sick or injured and need time to recover, plus some days we might be ok and the next week recovering from being ok. The other thing with a mental illness regardless of the diagnosis (depression, anxiety, ptsd, bipolar, the list is long and not exhaustive) the treatment and recovery is different to every single person. Sure there might be a guide that is followed of diagnosis, medication, therapy, hospitalisation, more therapy etc but this is a guide and what works for one person may not work for another with exactly the same condition.
This is where the treatment for mental illness is so hard because no two people are the same and as such no two treatments can be the same. A lot of treatments for mental illness require patience from both the Drs and the patient and lots of trial and error to find out what works for you. Because of this it makes it very hard to say when you will be better or how long it will take. The other key point is that no-one knows what better looks like, we just know that we don’t want to feel this way anymore and better has to be different to the before, because in many cases the before is how we got to here so it is important to make sure that better isn’t simply falling back into old habits, but to make sure we develop healthy ways to look after ourselves in the after so that we can avoid going backwards. That is not to say there won’t be times where life gets on top of us and it does feel too hard but hopefully the treatment will have given us the tools to understand this and to be able to seek help sooner.
So for me in terms of when will I be better, the answer is really how long is a piece of string? Today, is a good day where I want to get up, where I want to eat, and look after myself and do things for the family, but there are also days where getting better feels far too hard. I know that is hard to hear for my family but it is true, sometimes life and living feels like it will simply take more energy than I have in my body to give. For me my breakdown was both mental and physical and I think it was always apparent that the physical recovery was going to be quicker than the mental.
Physically, I am told and I can read from my journals that I have improved a lot. I was walking with a drag on my left leg, the strength in my left arm was non existent but now I can drag things around and I can certainly peg washing on the line! My balance is still a bit off, I had a fall the other day and gave myself a nice blackeye as a result so the walking stick will be my friend for a little while longer I think. I am not driving I am not sure if that is a physical thing or a mental thing, I know I still hate being a passenger so I am in no hurry to get back behind the wheel and drive.
Emotionally and mentally my recovery is taking a lot longer. I am not sure that there is ever actual an end point for mental health recovery, there is no linear track of recovery it is more up and down like a roller coaster hopefully the roller coaster keeps going forward and not backtracking on itself. What I know from my journals is that there has been some resolutions to things that have occurred over time which hopefully means that part can be put to rest and I will let this go eventually. This is hard to do when you know that you have hurt people and you are reading about these events and trying to infer emotion and understanding when you can’t recall them for yourself. I can only do my best to assure people this won’t happen again and apologise fr my actions.
When you can’t remember things and you are living via reading journals or from other people telling you what happened it is extremely hard to understand the mindset that you were in at the time or why you didn’t reach out to others for help instead of internalising it all and self destructing. This is also part of a burden that I carry knowing that others have had to pick up after me and my mess and that I have disappointed and let down those who love me the most. For this I am forever indebted to you for that and I love you for everything you have done and continure to do. Sadly, day to day though my memory has not come back and we are trying hard to work on this.
Recovery from depression/anxiety/ptsd is going to take a lot longer than anything else. It took me a long, long time to get to the point where I couldn’t cope or pretend anymore so it will take a long time to find my way out of it. What we know is that the me from the before needs to be different from the me in the after. The me in the before got me to here so one thing I have read we are working on is understanding that I have limitations. I crowded my head and life with lots and lots of things so that I left no space for me to process the things I really needed to process. I put on my happy face and got on with things.
The parts of me from before that meant that people would often turn to me for help or support are all still there but for now I need to use those to help myself get well. But to really get well there are lots of things that I have pushed away and haven’t dealt with and now is the time I need to deal with them and feel all the feels that go with those events that I have avoided for a long time.
So in short how am I doing or am I ok, no I am not really ok but I am doing better than I as because I know now that I am not ok and that does not make me a failure. I have been out to one social event of my choosing which was incredibly hard but nice at the same time and I am getting better at being around people. Please don’t be a stranger I do love hearing from you all. I hope everyone is doing really well and thank you again for all your love and support.