I talk a lot about recovery on this site. Part of this is because talking so openly and honestly about my experiences is a part of my own recovery, but partly because it helps encourage others as well. And while the things that I usually talk about when it comes to recovery are things like journaling, therapy, medication, etc, sometimes more is involved. Sometimes we also need to heal our lives.
What I mean is that certain lifestyles can be particularly damaging to mental health. We often see professions like doctors, lawyers, and first responders struggling with mental health conditions at higher rates than the general population. For other people it can be a negative relationship they are in, or an unhealthy family situation, or a negative group of friends. Whatever it is, sometimes it takes more than medicine and therapy.
And this can be a hard reality to admit. After all, part of what I want to see as a mental health advocate is a world where stigma isn’t a barrier, where mental illness isn’t a barrier to living the life you want. Yet the most important thing is that we protect our physical and mental health first. If there are things you really want to accomplish, you can work with your therapist to figure out how to reintegrate those things into your life, just as a physical therapist would work with you to help reintegrate physical activities following an injury or illness.
The point is that sometimes managing one’s mental health requires more than just looking inward and pushing back against the demons. Sometimes it involves looking at the things around you that might be feeding those demons. Healing our lives means healing the darkness where our demons might like to hang out, so that there are brighter futures ahead.
Because after all, whether our recovery is inward looking or outward looking, we all deserve a brighter tomorrow.