My Path to Accepting Mental Illness
My Steps Toward Recovery
From the beginning, there was a lot working against me on the road to recovery. I had to work through a lot of grief, shame, trauma and anger. But there were a few very important decisions and commitments I made that really made a difference.
I committed to my medication regimen. This sounds simple enough, but for many people, adhering to medication is a battle that goes on year after year. Many do not fully accept this type of treatment and its effects, and refuse to take their medication. Unfortunately for these people, this creates a large barrier on the road to healing, recovering and living in wellness.
I decided to take full accountability for my actions. This meant reclaiming “choice.” I had the ability to choose how I would approach healing, and I chose to take things one step at a time, to proactively deal with crises while practicing resilience and to always have hope for my situation.
I accepted therapy to aid me in dealing with the insurmountable grief, sadness, failure, resentment, anger, shame and rage about all that has happened because of my illness.
Slowly, I began to learn to take care of my body, as the body and mind are connected. Basic wellness not only involves physical health, but also involves learning or relearning the basic skills of life. Hygiene, basic chores like cleaning and doing laundry, working a simple job and keeping it despite reoccurring symptoms and episodes, making friends regardless of feeling like I didn’t know who I was post-diagnosis.
And, all the while, working over and over, harder and harder, at accepting the illness.
Learning To Dream Again
There is always more to learn about self-love and acceptance. There is always another layer or habit to pick away at, quit or build up. We are constantly making discoveries about ourselves and how to heal and improve. We are constantly rediscovering or inventing our identity, healing even older and deeper layers of trauma, and finding undiscovered dreams. I am at that place in life now. I am learning to dream again.
A key, I believe, is not feeling attached to old dreams that I discarded, but discovering the new — discovering who I am now. Because I am changed.
All of this, all the deep mud that we have slogged through, all the healing that has taken place, it has changed us. It is time to dream new. It is time to rediscover what dreaming is all about, and what it feels like to pursue these dreams and truly believe in ourselves no matter where we have been, what we have seen, how old we are or any physical obstacle. I look forward to thoroughly engaging in this next phase of healing, living and becoming who I am truly meant to be.
Emily LeClair Metcalf is the author of “Glass Slippers: A Journey of Mental Illness” (Dog Ear Publishing), and currently writes on her blog, welcometothegrit.com, about her spiritual, creative and healing experience while living with schizoaffective disorder – bipolar type. She lives on Lopez Island, Washington.