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What I Learned About Mental Health Recovery When My Girlfriend Encouraged Me to Seek Help

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What does that mean? What does it mean to you?

The dictionary definition of recovery is: “A return to a normal state of health, mind or strength.”

But to me, recovery means: improving, getting better, getting rid of all the bad thoughts and the problematic habits I have and being happy.

I have struggled with mental health issues — more specifically depression and anxiety — for around four to five years. Ever since I was a young teenager. I do not know what caused it. I imagine it’s a number of things — from my surroundings to the perception I have of myself and unfortunately, the biology of my brain.

I struggled in silence for many years. I knew there was help available, but I was always afraid to get it due to anxiety-driven thoughts telling me it was all in my head. Additionally, the doctor would laugh at me or not understand what I was saying. This year since I met my girlfriend, she encouraged me to seek help for my mental health. She held my hand during every single doctor appointment! I’m not going to go too much into this because this post is not about that, so to cut a long story short, I got put on medication, the doctor was lovely and it is so worth it! It was a long time coming and I cried as soon as I walked into the doctor’s office. Help is there and even though it is terrifying, in the long run, it is so worth it. It’s the first step of getting better. 

This time five years ago, if you told me I would be happy I would have believed you. I was young and I thought I was just sad. Recovery wasn’t a term I had even acknowledged because I didn’t know to what extent this “sadness” was.

This time six months ago, if you asked me if I thought recovery was possible and there was a chance I could be happy, I would have shut you down immediately or laughed in your face. After five long years of feeling this way, I thought this was just who I was. Part of me that would always be there. I had lost all hope pretty much.

I was so adamant that I was right and everyone around me who said I will get better was wrong.

I mean yes, now I still have bad days and I am sure I will have many bad days in the future, but like everyone else in the world, it is normal to be in a bad mood sometimes. Not every single day will be sunshine and rainbows, but there will be lots of that too!

The main difference is that on the bad days, the sadness isn’t as intense or as painful and debilitating. I used to feel numb and not want to get out of bed and I would go through phases of crying to feeling nothing at all. It’s a feeling I can’t even describe anymore because I haven’t felt it in so long! Every single day is different. I am not going to lie and say I don’t get any bad thoughts anymore, but they are rare and not as frequent or intense. I can’t say there isn’t a chance of relapsing or falling back into bad habits because I already have, but it’s a fight I was always have to battle against.

Over the past couple of months of me being on my medication and practicing self-care techniques, I can honestly say it is working. Even on the days it feels like I have gone backwards and no progress has been made, I have days like today when I remember and realize I am getting better. I am on my journey of recovery (a lifelong journey) and I am winning. I genuinely feel so so happy and content right now. My heart feels full. I am living the life I have always dreamed of and wanted. I have an incredible girlfriend, a job I love so much, I travel and do things I have always wanted, I am healthy and I am surrounded by people who make my life so much better. I really appreciate every little bit of my life.

I can proudly say I am beating my mental illness and it will always be a part of me, but a part of me I can control instead of it controlling me.

Follow this journey here.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Photo via contributor.

Originally published: August 25, 2017
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