Tomorrow I have a 9:30 appointment with my psychiatrist Dr. Bob. It's been too long.
The last time I saw him was on Monday, September 1, almost two months ago. Before school started. Everything was going tickety-boo.
Since then, it's been a rather rocky ride. Up and down. I'm overdue for a 60-minute session with him and I always feel 100 lbs. lighter when I leave his office. I'm counting the hours. He's been out of town and my killing teaching timetable this term at Seneca has taken its toll.
In exactly 24 hours, I'll be sitting in his plant-filled office across his desk, eye-to-eye pouring my heart out. Crying, too. That's how I feel right now. Fragile.
For me, it's lifelong learning. Growing pain. The more I learn, the less I know. Wonderful.
For Elly Litvak "recovery is a self-directed journey, process of healing, growth and self-discovery that has its ups and downs while striving toward balance and enriched quality of life."
That's just the tip of the iceberg.
For everyone, anywhere on earth Mental Health Recovery is an individual journey. Unique. Your personal story. We all have our own recovery stories. They're ongoing. All different. So perhaps it's healthy to start talking, because as you talk, you learn as you go.
That's what happens to me in Dr. Bob's office.
Mental health recovery is ever changing and evolving. Everybody defines it differently. For me, it's sleep, psychotherapy and gaining insight.
What is it for you? Let me know. Let's share our definitions here!
I haven't been sleeping well lately. So my mind isn't clicking along as it usually does.
I cannot focus. All I did yesterday was walk my dogs. Riley and Lucy and I went for a 90-minute walk to check out the Halloween decorations in the neighbourhood. It felt good until the guilt set in because I knew I should be doing other things.
Recovery is hard work. It demands one thing. HOPE. Without it, we cannot heal!
Despite what one of my favourite writers Barbara Ehrenreich asserts in her latest book – Bright-Sided – How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America – which I have not yet read, only read about, I still can't help being a cockeyed optimist – "stuck like a dope with a thing called hope and I can't get it out of my heart."
Does that mean I wander about in a golden haze of mindless bliss? Please. I'm too passionate, too driven, too obsessed to see a better world. To help make it happen. I'm too impatient.
I'm sure my positive outlook would make Ehrenreich cringe. I consider my psychiatric history a gift. It's given me a raison d'etre. A passion. A cause. You. Coming Out Crazy. My craze for change. It hasn't really stopped me.
I'm innately positive. Resilient. I've learned to be. Without optimism or hopefulness, the foundation of mental health recovery – not anger, which I think is too toxic an emotion – there can be no recovery, no healing.
Without anticipation for a better tomorrow, without believing there is a chance for a better life, I wouldn't be here.
Why else get out of bed every morning?
The promise of a little more learning, new experiences, meeting new people – even if all this knowledge is acquired through my genius for making mistakes – I learn from everything and everyone.
It's exciting. Painful sometimes. With indelible lessons.
Too many mental health professionals deny their patients hope by doling out dire prognoses and prescriptions. Not much opportunity for talking. "You'll have to take this medication for the rest of your life because you have a chronic mental illness, a disease – like diabetes."
Talk about dashing hopes. People report this all the time and it infuriates me. It's not necessarily true.
We deserve the right to choose our own pathways to recovery. It's tough but hope paves the way.
Recovery means hope! Hope leads to mental health recovery.
So here's to hope for a better day. Do a little something for yourself to make it happen.