One of the challenges we face with mental illness recovery is an increased sensitivity to certain life events and experiences. Things that never presented a problem to us before can suddenly become things we struggle to deal with after going through recovery as we return to our daily lives. You’ve heard it said before that we don’t just go back to how we were before mental illness; we are changed as individuals and we must to accommodate those changes. We must become keenly aware of what things act as triggers for us in order to best manage the different reaction to the world around us that mental illness can create. No matter how hard we work on improving ourselves and getting better, there can still be situations that are too much for us to manage. Many different emotionally intense events can create that circumstance, things like; a breakup, losing a job, or the loss of a loved one. Losing something close to you is never easy, mental illness aside. Grief is a complicated and lingering emotion for all people and no one can be truly prepared to lose someone they care deeply for. For those of us that have been diagnosed with a mental illness, this idea seems even more intimidating and terrifying. It seems like we are even more capable of coping and getting to the grief given our emotional struggles. Though we may find ourselves less capable of handling the intensity of grief related emotions, we may also find that we have an advantage to cope and move on.
We must first let go of the idea that our mental health challenges equals weakness and vulnerability. It is helpful to adjust the thinking that we are less stable and will fall apart easier automatically, and begin to see the strength that we draw upon daily. Going through treatment, we have gained back out control. Yes, we felt powerless when our journey first began and that feeling was often accurate. To a varying degree we did sometimes find ourselves out of control and at the whim of our own minds. Recovery has given us the power to put in the work and get better, fighting to regain control and understand our minds. This is important to remember if you are fearful of losing a loved one. There is no situation where we feel okay with the idea, but take comfort in seeing your recovery as a result of your strength, and have faith that while negative emotions may present you with challenges, you have the ability to work through them and the resources should you need help doing so.
Preparing for What You Cannot Prepare For
It would be unrealistic to imply that there was anything anyone, with or without mental illness, could do to be truly prepared for the death of someone in their life. What is possible is diligent work and utilization of tools to place yourself emotionally aware and stable with regularity. Many mental illnesses can leave you feeling emotionally sensitive and mentally drained, feelings that are often present in grief. Working to be aware of triggers and causes of emotional sensitivity presently can help not only in your day to day life but it may also help you with preparedness in the event you lose a loved one. Loss can affect your life in many ways, one advantage someone who manages mental illness often has after recovery is a set of tools to help cope with changes. It is nearly impossible to have an idea of what these changes could look like, but you may be able to draw on the skills developed dealing with smaller changes if you are ever faced with grieving a loved one. Most of us have experience navigating dark places. We know that there are some things in life that will never be easy, some situations will feel like they are impossible to endure. Accepting that something won’t be easy is one of the first steps in overcoming it, and facing the true reality of situations is helpful for those with mental illness. This is something you have experience with through your recovery. At a point in your process you had to face the reality of the task ahead of you, that you were going to have to to do difficult and sometimes painful work to push through and get where you wanted to be. You will be able to draw upon that experience and do the same should you ever experience loss. You have worked hard to gain the tools you have today that can help balance you when you find yourself in emotional turmoil. You have learned the powerful skill of acceptance and this can be used as you face life’s challenges going forward.
Loss is not something that can be prepared for or made easy to deal with, and the grieving process looks different for each individual. Life and death both catch us off guard despite our attempts to prepare for them, no matter how much we fight against uncertainty, it is the only constant in our lives. We can find that we are more equipped to deal with difficult things when we are working daily to take care of our emotional and mental health, keeping us present and balanced. As people who have been through recovery for mental health we have experienced lows and feelings of helplessness, and in turn experienced the power of working towards hope and health. We can draw upon these experiences to help us cope when life brings us loss. Death has a lasting impact on us all, and experiencing it may change us forever. You have already watched the world continue on all around as you worked to recover. The strength you have relied upon in the past is still in you and it will carry you through darker time into happier chapters.
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 at (866) 399-6528.