This time around on mental health Monday I’m tackling the subject of frustration. Specifically the frustration deriving from that gap between where you feel you should be with your recovery and where you actually are.
When you start to feel better you want to start doing all the things you missed out on when you were at your most ill and you think it’s okay to jump in to activities you may have avoided for a long time because you’re feeling so well and so strong. But when you actually try, you find you can’t do it; either the old sensations of panic and anxiety rear up and you run to safety, or you find it’s simply too much stress and you’re not equal to it.
This is not failure to recover. It is a case of trying to run before you can walk.
Although you *feel* better, you are still in recovery from mental illness and this does not happen overnight. Recovery is a process, often slow and painstaking, a real case of gaining and losing ground, often losing so much ground you’re convinced you’re slipping back into illness. Most of the time that’s not happening, all that’s happening is that you’ve taken feeling better as a sign that everything is normal now, when your mind and body are still pretty shell-shocked.
Mental illness is a hugely disruptive state, it changes everything in your life, and going into recovery is, in many ways, like coming out of a long term illness, you need to be aware that your physical capabilities (and of course your mental ones) will take time to build to what they were before. The best way to achieve this is with baby steps. Be patient. Don’t push yourself too fast or too far.
Utilise a form of immunotherapy, very gradually exposing yourself to more and more social interaction/the outside world. Take it bit by bit, giving yourself plenty of time and space. Put your wellbeing, your safety and your peace of mind first. It IS frustrating to take things so slowly, but I speak from experience when I say that if you don’t take it slowly, you can set yourself back quite badly.
I think the most important thing to remember is that it’s OK to take time to get well. In fact, it’s best to. Rushing forwards is a surefire route back to illness.