Even after treatment, we still occasionally find ourselves at the mercy of our mental health challenges. There is no permanent fix for mental illness, so even when we’ve done the work and come out the other side in a better place, we must recognize that continued maintenance as a way of life. We must also accept that even with continued growth and work we can still experience the symptoms of our illness. There may still be moments of anxious wondering, days of depressive episodes, or nights of restless sleep. It is easy for us to feel discouraged or defeated when these things return. We can easily begin to believe that we are falling back into an unhealthy cycle that will cause us harm, or even begin to feel as if we are simply a hopeless case and out efforts have been in vain. It almost makes sense to us; the experience we had when we were at our lowest before recovery was traumatic, and was often a cycle of sometimes getting temporarily better only to spiral back into our struggles. We easily take any turmoil as an indication that we are still sick, but if we allow ourselves to slide into this downward spiral we may find that we struggle far more than needed. When our mental illness shows up uninvited it’s important to remember if the work is being continued this is not a return to a painful cycle and it too shall pass.
Let’s focus on the example of sleepless nights. Sometimes, it’s as simple as our bodies fragile balance being upset and then failing to cooperate. No matter how tired or worn down we feel, occasionally our brains will fight every ounce of sleep with everything they have. It is both infuriating and terrifying when that happens. All we want is to sleep and our body just refuses to do so. We exhaust all the remedies and tricks we’ve learned over time and it just becomes a matter of waiting, as eventually either our system balances our or our minds exhaust themselves and we will finally rest. By the time that happens, we can have lost several hours of sleep, making the next day a daunting prospect. But that next day is an incredibly important one. The day after we experience these sleepless nights calls for a lot of grace and understanding for ourselves. Rather than allowing for anxiety to grow and worrying you’re falling back into an old pattern, look for a reasonable explanation. Often it can be as simple as accidentally drinking a beverage we didn’t know was caffeinated late in the evening or perhaps there was a tough conversation that needed to be had and didn’t, either of these examples could create a single sleepless night. If we have allayed fears that out illness symptoms are returning we should then turn to self care. You would likely be exhausted if you have an otherwise normal sleep schedule, and you may tell yourself it is best to push through it and get back on track tomorrow. However it is necessary to find the time to focus on that recuperation. After all, we still have mental illness and pushing through exhaustion could leave us in a vulnerable state and be worse for us in the end, potentially disrupting your sleep schedule and eventually mood further. It is best to be proactive after a difficult night or day, this way we can address them head-on and take the best possible care of ourselves and our recovery.
Facing a Long Day
If you’ve struggled with a mental health challenge and recovered make sure you find moments during your day to take time for yourself and don’t be afraid to change your plans. If you battled anxiety the day prior and are feeling drained give yourself permission to skip the gym or nap. Listen to your body and do what feels right for you, the act of kindness towards yourself can be healing. Reach out and have a conversation with the people in your support system. Let them know what happened and what is still going on in your head. What emotions are lingering, what you may still be afraid of, and what you think about. Speak your mind and listen to what they have to say in return. Letting someone in on what is going on can do a lot to make you feel more confident in moving on from it. And if you want to, reach out to your therapist or your doctor. Talk to a professional who knows you and what you have been through. You can always come back to your recovery program and speak with the people who helped you. They know a lot about how your illness works and can provide some good advice on what to do right now. Leaving the program doesn’t mean leaving it, and the people, behind.
Our support systems are vast and strong. We can lean on them when we need to and also tackle what we can ourselves. It is important to practice patience with ourselves after experiencing a difficult night. Allow yourself some grace and don’t push yourself as hard as you might otherwise. You deserve to have the time to recover and take it easy. Everything else can wait; your health is more important than getting your chores or your workout done. Take that time you would spend on those activities and talk with a close friend, or reach out to your therapist or doctor. Talking about what we are feeling is a vital skill for continuing to cope with our mental illnesses. Having a bad night doesn’t mean you are falling again and you don’t need to be afraid of slipping back into your lowest place, though the fear is still valid. Don’t feel any shame in fearing that and whatever else may spring up during these times. Expressing those emotions is admirable and deserves to be seen as such. You are not weak for having these experiences; you are just human.
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with anxiety or mental illness, do not hesitate to contact the team here at True Recovery. Our program, founded in 2014, is built around finding what’s best for you to overcome your addiction. Our facility is located in Newport Beach, California, with our supportive housing located close to our campus in Costa Mesa. Take advantage of the local beaches, nature preserves, and Orange County community while we fight for you. Contact us today at (866) 399-6528.