The One Thing That Made Me Realize I Was Recovering From Depression

After 40 years of good mental health, my breakdown came from nowhere. So, too, did my diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and severe depression.

A year on, and the impact of baby steps toward recovery is finally evident. I am not yet the energetic, enthusiastic and tireless mother, teacher and wife I once was, but I am suddenly beginning to recognize myself again.

The problem with baby steps is that you often don’t see the progress you are making. Each step forward is so minuscule that you barely notice it; and, of course, the steps backwards make recovery seem impossible. But then one day, something happens and you suddenly realize all those baby steps have contributed to a monumental leap from where you were in your darkest days.

My “something” was my sudden urge to book a flight from the Netherlands to the UK to support my younger sister. She’s in the middle of a big project for work, her husband’s away for the weekend and she has two young children to look after. As we chatted on the phone, it seemed natural to suggest that I pop over for the weekend to help her out.

This would have been no big deal 18 months ago. Yet now it is truly monumental.

A year ago, leaving my bed or the sofa seemed impossible — now I am leaving the country.

10 months ago, I couldn’t walk down the road without clutching my husband’s hand — now I long for some independence.

Six months ago, I couldn’t bear my teenagers’ chatter — now I am throwing myself into family chaos with young children.

Four months ago, I couldn’t cope with thinking about my own issues, let alone talk about someone else’s — now I’ve happily offered myself as sous chef, nanny, therapist and drinking partner for my sister.

Two months ago, I felt like this nightmare would never end and constantly wanted to be alone — now I am excited about the future and being with my family.

So, if you feel all those baby steps are pointless and getting you nowhere, I encourage you to keep believing and keep going. It might take a while, but one day your “something” will happen and you will realize that you have taken your monumental leap too.

I am realistic. I know there will be steps backwards. There will be more occasions when baby steps are needed. To remind me they are worth it, I might just frame that flight ticket.

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