What Two Bags of Potato Chips Taught Me About Mental Illness Recovery
Recovery is a journey. Yet, no map or compass is provided to aid in this journey. I alone each morning have to figure out the steps I will be taking that day. I have to decide on the supplies I’d like to carry with me as I’m trekking and leave the unnecessary behind.
Setbacks happen, because logic. And sometimes those missteps are overwhelming and affect my ability to see how far I’ve come on my journey. Setbacks make me believe I am at the starting point all over again. They make me believe fighting isn’t worth it, that my effort in holding on is futile. I forget I am so much less suicidal today than I was six months ago. I forget, when I am feeling suicidal, that I am so much stronger now in fighting those thoughts. I forget I used to be in the ER every other night for anxiety and severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. I forget. I forget. I forget.
And when setbacks are overwhelming, all I want to do is curl up in a ball, stay in bed and just cry until my tears run dry. And sometimes, I do just that. Like yesterday. I was depressed and angry at myself that my schedule became messed up again. I’ve worked hard to keep a schedule, and I’m trying to adjust to my meds. And yesterday, sleep wouldn’t come and at that moment, that meant my hard work was pointless.
I stayed in bed all day, ate two family-sized bags of potato chips, didn’t shower or brush my teeth and delayed my medication intake by a few hours. Not good. Not good. Not good.
I woke up this morning feeling horrible. I figured I might as well stay in bed another day and have another bag of potato chips. As I was debating the idea, I remembered how far I’ve come in my journey and the small successes I’ve celebrated each day. I remembered my old self and the newer one who incorporates coping skills to the best of her ability. I remembered the warrior in me, the obstacle fighter, the mountain climber, the untrodden path hiker. Real hikers pause their journey too sometimes. They set up their tents for the night and resume when they feel recharged. I must not let my bad choices of yesterday influence my choices of today. I will accept my yesterday because it’s part of my recovery. It is a part of my journey; my life.
One day I will tell the world how two bags of potato chips made me realize that setbacks are OK and I can fight again tomorrow.
I ain’t giving up that easy. My journey is important to me, setbacks and all. And I am slowly learning to make new and better choices each day.
Follow this journey on Tea or Lemonade.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.
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Thinkstock photo by Pavlo_K