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What I Mean When I Say I Don't Feel Ready for Mental Health Recovery

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When I say I don’t feel ready for recovery, it isn’t that I don’t want to feel or get better. I do. I hate the constant roller coaster of emotions I experience on a daily basis. I hate not knowing how I’ll feel when I wake up — will I cry the second I realize I am actually awake? Or will I just be sleepy? Will I feel intense emotional pain? Will I have a panic attack? Or will I experience some other emotion I’m probably not even aware exists yet?

I hate constantly fearing that people are going to abandon me. I feel so insecure and so fragile and so terrified. I feel needy, and I know my mental state often depends on those closest to me — but that is because, without them, I feel like I am nothing. Actually, I feel like I am less than nothing… like I will cease to exist. And that scares me.

I know logically I will exist even without them, but maybe I also don’t want to exist without them.

I hate feeling like I have no foundation — like I’m trying to build a house on sand before building the foundation. The house continuously crumbles, never a stable moment. And even if I have a stable moment, I’m always worrying if it’s real, or if it’s dissociation or repression. I worry about when it will leave, what will trigger it to leave, why it came in the first place and how I can get it to stay. What if it means I really am OK and my mental illness was actually just a lie — an attention seeking ploy like people often seem to think? Except, my mental illnesses are not me seeking attention and they aren’t a lie. I don’t want this type of attention. And, often, I don’t want attention at all. I want to be invisible, blend in, go unnoticed.

I hate never feeling fully grounded, being so easily triggered.

I hate that even any small change can make me feel like I am constantly tripping and spinning at the same time. I hate feeling like I am constantly trying to catch up, only to realize that, just when I feel like I’ve caught up, I still have so far to go.

I don’t like misperceiving reactions and emotions to the degree I do. I don’t like being unable to move from my couch for three hours, but also not realizing three hours have passed because I’ve just been staring… not hearing the song playing on repeat — not even aware it is playing.

I don’t enjoy the overly intense emotions, which never seem to be overly intense positive emotions. I cry randomly. I’m triggered easily. I read into things, overanalyze nearly everything. I am constantly thinking, constantly replaying events, words or years in my head, constantly doubting everything I’ve ever believed in, everything I’ve felt, thought, said, remembered — everything someone else has told me to be true. I’m never sure of anything. 

I hate not knowing what will cause a drastic spike in my depression and having to live with the fact I may wake up one day and just feel so much worse than I did before. I hate not knowing what the worst I can feel is, because it always seems I am capable of feeling lower, darker, heavier. 

I don’t enjoy being mentally ill.

That isn’t to say there isn’t something good or positive that has come from my mental illnesses, but I think I need to realize I can have those things even when I am in recovery — that all I have gained from my battles won’t just be lost.

I can still be sensitive and empathetic. I can still have the creativity I feel is tied to my mental illnesses, but is also a part of who I am as a person. I can still write poetry… the inspiration won’t just be lost.

I will still exist even once in recovery.

black and white photo of crack on ground with OK written on ground and two arrows pointing at crack

I just don’t know who I am without my illnesses. I don’t know who I am without my depression or my borderline personality disorder (BPD).

I don’t know why I feel so ready for recovery from my anxiety disorders and phobia and not the other two. But for some reason, I feel like my identity is tied to the depression and BPD.

I don’t know who I am without them, and it’s hard to believe anybody when they tell me they do.

I feel like I am my depression and my BPD. They are so ingrained in me, it isn’t even like I’ve become them… it’s like they’ve become me.

I don’t know how I will relate to people without them. I don’t know what relationships will survive me not having them. I feel like so much of me comes from the two of them that if I let go of them I will lose the self I’m not sure I ever had.

And it’s confusing. I don’t want to feel how I feel, and I don’t want to have depression or BPD, but I’m not sure how to not have them. I’m not sure how to let go. I’m not even sure letting go would send me into recovery, but I think being open to letting go would be the first step. But there are times I’m not sure I even want to let go.

I’m stuck in this constant back and forth that has surpassed a tug-of-war and gone into a full-blown tornado of contradictions.

I know I need to get better. I know I should want to get better. And I do. I honestly really do. But… then what?

Who will I have if I get better? What will I be? Who will I be? Will I still be me, or will I be this entirely different person? How do I let go of the safety that is my depression and BPD and freefall into a cyclone of the unknowns that encompass recovery?

I know I need to take that step. I know I need to face my fear of losing myself in recovery. I know I need to work through my over-identification with my mental illnesses. It’s just so hard to feel ready to let go of the only thing I feel like I’ve ever known.

The thing is, I may never feel completely ready. At some point, I’ll just have to go for it — let myself jump in, even though I don’t know what will happen… even though the unknown terrifies me.

I just feel like I’ll be losing the only me I have to hold on to.

But there is so much more to me than my mental illnesses. I just haven’t been able to really see that yet.

Lead Thinkstock photo via RyanKing999. Image in piece via contributor.

Originally published: July 31, 2017
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