One of the many unfortunate things about mental illness is that you sometimes backslide. A bad day knocks you off track or an over-stimulating social experience (which for introverts with social anxiety can be everyday social interactions) leaves you feeling raw and drained and unable to keep moving forward. Even after all I’ve been through in recovery I still have days that depression knocks me on my ass and anxiety leaves me feeling raw and broken. Yet just because I fall backwards, doesn’t mean I am not continuing to look forward.
In fact, the ability to remember that the dark days will pass has become an important coping mechanism as I deal with my bad mental health days. It is the lighthouse signaling to me in the storm, telling me that safe harbor is ahead. The storm and the waves will pass eventually.
And when I come out of a depressive episode especially, it is like that storm just lifted. I suddenly have energy again and the rainbow streaking across the sky is actually a pretty apt analogy. And the memory of those bright days right after the depression comes back is like a life jacket when I am again thrown to the raging sea of depression.
Okay, I’m not sure where all these ocean metaphors keep coming from, but you get the point.
Because if you are out there right now managing your mental illness, please know that just because you have a bad day, that doesn’t mean you are a failure. Just because you have a bad day, doesn’t mean that the progress you’ve made in your recovery is suddenly lost. Going backwards is a shitty but inevitable part of living and recovering from mental illness, but even when going backwards, you can continue to look forward to brighter days.