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You Can’t Always Be 'Brave' in Mental Health Recovery

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It’s really hard to be fine all the time. For some, being fine takes a lot more effort than most realize, which naturally means that sometimes, you’re just too damn tired to do it.

Sometimes, you’re just too damn tired to be fine. This is something I’m finding really hard to accept and I’m not really sure how to be OK with it. I get so frustrated with myself for being that girl. I almost feel like I’ve made a name for myself for being the girl who leaves early and is always ill. The girl who doesn’t drink because she’s “no fun.” The girl who is sick all the time. The girl who is hard work. The girl who lets other people — and herself — down by not being able to do “normal” things because she has a disorder. I’m pretty sure some people think I’m “insane” and, to be honest, sometimes I feel like I am.

I spend a lot of time telling people that mental illness isn’t shameful and trying to help people to understand their minds and how to improve their health. That’s great and I enjoy it, and I do think it is what you need sometimes, but sometimes you just have to be brutally honest. Sometimes you’ve just got to say it as it is; no sugarcoating. There are times when I do feel ashamed. I do feel embarrassed. I do feel like a letdown. I do feel, sometimes, like I’m a bit crazy. I bloody hate that word – “crazy” – because it’s no way to describe a person and anyway, it’s not accurate. I’m not “crazy” — that’s not what mental illness is — but sometimes I feel very different from others. I can’t do “normal” things.

This is relapse. When I think about it properly, the bigger picture, etc., it’s quite clear I’ve made significant progress over the past year or so in regaining control of my mental health and better dealing with situations I couldn’t go near before. But let’s be honest: mid-relapse, that’s not what you’re thinking about. You’re thinking about what a failure you feel, how embarrassing it is to leave another party early, frustration, guilt and how you’ve taken a million steps back when you thought you had it down. I really thought I’d cracked it. Maybe I have. Maybe I’ll wake up in the morning and feel better. Maybe in a few days, I’ll be my usual self again and yeah, I probably will. Because that is what relapse is. It’s not a step backward even though it feels like it really, really is. It’s a minor setback, it wouldn’t be recovery without it.

Anyway, the point I’m making is: yep, recovery is great. It’s wonderful to gain a little bit of your life back every time you do something you couldn’t before, but that won’t always be the case. You won’t always be able to do things. Some days will be just as shit as they used to be. Some days I’m courageous and ready and will face whatever I need to and other days, I just can’t. I’m tired. Some days, I just can’t be as brave. Maybe one day, I’ll be OK with it.

A version of this article was previously published on the author’s blog.

Photo by Aleksander Borzenets on Unsplash

Originally published: December 5, 2019
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