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Why 'Recovery' Isn’t Always the Right Word When You Have Anxiety

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When I started going to therapy for my anxiety disorder in high school, I thought it was going to be a few months and I would be back to normal. I could not have been more wrong.

First of all, what does “normal” even mean? Neurotypical? Not mentally ill? I don’t really think I’ve ever known what it is like to be normal and I’m working towards actually being OK with that. Anxiety makes me a little quirkier than say, a completely mentally stable person, but I didn’t realize therapy wasn’t to “fix” that quirky part of me.

As far as mental illnesses go, there’s not always much “fixing” that can be done. Sure, medication and therapy can be incredibly helpful. Symptoms of anxiety can fade away, but that doesn’t always mean the anxiety is gone. Depressive episodes can be less frequent, but that isn’t to say the depression doesn’t exist anymore. Just because someone seems “better” doesn’t mean they are perfectly OK.

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Therapy fosters stability, not perfection. Therapists aren’t miracle workers. And even when you put in the time and work, you are not going to necessarily be consistently OK. Sure, with time you’ll get a more definitive consistency, but you have to accept that bad days still happen. Things come up and your anxiety or depression might spike. But this is not to say that this process is useless.

You’re working towards being better. Not perfect, but better. Therapy can only get you so far. And the rest of the journey is up to you. It is going to be hard. It’s going to be messy and imperfect and sometimes it may seem like nothing is getting better. But you just have to keep going. Know that everything will end up OK, no matter how much those voices in your head make you forget that.

Remember that you do not need to be fixed. You may never be the standard of perfect. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t be happy and healthy. That doesn’t mean you’re broken.

Photo by Gemma Chua-Tran on Unsplash

Originally published: November 9, 2020
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