I wrote yesterday about cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and how it is about using objective facts and positive reinforcement to redirect negative thoughts. Yet it isn’t a process that happens overnight. Battling mental illness is a marathon, not a sprint.
And no one expects a runner to get up and run 26 miles without training, without working their way up to that impressive feat. So why should it be any different with mental illnesses?
A lot of my set backs come from being discouraged by not making more progress on my recovery, by not being more stable in my anxiety. It comes from not being able to go to every social event I get invited to. And sometimes this frustration leads me to say yes when I should say no because I worry people will judge me for my absence. And as a result I end up trying to run a metaphorical mile when for me just walking around the block in that moment is a struggle.
Yet like I marathon runner I still need to build my way up to it. A big part of the success of CBT involves building on prior successes and prior positive reinforcement. It involves making incremental gains and not getting discouraged by how long the recovery is taking. It isn’t a race, it is your recovery. Take your time. That is what I intend to do. Because even if I am slower than the tortoise, I intend to finish stronger than when I started.