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My Recovery Is Anything but Black and White

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I live with major depressive disorder and a panic disorder, I am on medication and I continue to seek treatment regularly in order to take care of myself. I guess that means I’m in recovery.

Sometimes I feel hypocritical because I work as a speaker and share my story with others and give them hope for a light at the end of the tunnel. Because of the disorder I live with and the ways in which it affects me, a depressive episode can choose to crash in my brain without ringing the doorbell or paying rent. I’ve accepted the fact being in treatment is not a short term contract because neither is my illness.

So I’ve come to this conclusion:

It doesn’t always get better. You get better. You get stronger.

I’ve also come to this conclusion: Having a depressive episode is out of my control. Who on earth would choose to be depressed? Who would want to feel pain so great, fear so deep and emptiness so constantly?

And I’ve learned to stop telling myself I have to be better.

I felt a pressure unlike any other after I got a bit better. A pressure to feel better, to feel happier, to feel stronger. In reality, that wasn’t the case. Without realizing it, I was feeding a monster. I was feeding my illness. I was forcing myself to feel certain things. I was forcing myself not to feel. And that in itself landed me back at square one.

I live in fear. I have a bad day and I can deal with it better than ever before. I have a few bad days in a row and panic sets in. Because I have felt such darkness in my life, the very thought of returning to that place causes tears to run down my face. The thought of spending every Tuesday at the clinic for treatment instead of spending it with friends or doing what I love scares me. The thought of spending days in bed without the desire for anyone or anything scares me. The thought of people around me thinking I may be a little “too broken” scares me. The thought of my world crumbling to the ground scares me.

But then I had a check in with my doctor and she told me something I hold onto every day. She turned to me and said “You’re right, it could get worse and it could come back. But there’s a big difference. Now you know how to take care of yourself and let yourself feel all those horrible things. Now you have a whole support system, ready to catch you if you fall. Cherish the amazing time you have right now. Cause it could get worse. But now we can kick ass. It could get worse. But we will deal with it when it comes. Together.”

My recovery is very gray. I’m doing quite well. But there are times where I’m doing quite the opposite and all I’m in search for is a little empathy and some kindness.  The difference between then and now is not the situation. It is me. I’ve learned to accept what comes my way and brave the storm when it starts to rain. I’ve learned to grow while the sun is still out. If darkness comes my way, I won’t look for the light at the end of the tunnel. I will become the light.

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Thinkstock photo via 04linz.


Originally published: March 16, 2017
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