January 22, 2020
No one is perfect. We are all human beings, and part of being human is learning from our mistakes. Since you are striving for mental health, you know what it takes to fall and get back up again. Some people may think that going through treatment means that you have to be perfect, or else you have failed. But that is the type of thinking that can fail you. To truly be living strong, you need to know what it is to err and then to learn from that.
Learning to Walk Again
If you have ever been to a physical rehabilitation center, you might have seen someone who, after serious accident or injury, is re-learning how to walk. This can be more amazing than watching a baby’s first steps because it is an ability they knew and possibly took for granted for years. And now, their brains and bodies have to start all over and remember what to do just to take a step or two.
Likewise, your experiences with mental health may feel the same. Things that used to be easy for you are suddenly very, very hard. You struggle with day to day experiences and interactions as you are finding your mental footing again. Or maybe, initially, you feel like you are running because you are enjoying being healthy. Inevitably, though, it is human nature to slip up, in big or small ways. That doesn’t mean you have failed, it means that you are alive.
When You Stumble
The true measure of a person is not in the ability to stay standing so much as it is in how they are able to pick themselves up when they fall. Your mental health indiscretions can be as simple as missing sleep or exercise or other parts of your self-care. You already know what your stumble is, and you are the one who feels the consequences more than anyone else. You could give up, but you know that you have not come this far just to give up.
There is no need to beat yourself up or even think about it too much. Just dust off your pants and jump back into your routines and reclaim your place in the mental health hall of fame. You can learn from this, that sticking to routines is easier than breaking them and starting them again. You can learn that you are big enough to admit a weakness, then work to make it a strength.
If You Fall
So what happens if you relapse with substance use? Or if you need more treatment, outpatient or residential because of your mental health? What if you fall? Does this mean you failed?
No. The only failure is the decision to not try anymore. You are still here. You want this mental health thing. And if you need more treatment or have had a relapse, that means you are still alive. You are still in this game.
When your stumble is more of a fall, it means that there is a little bit more to standing back up again. A little more work to get back on your mental health feet, so to speak. But if you believe the saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” it is never more applicable than with mental health. You are still alive. That means you always have another chance. It also means that climbing back to the top of your game will make you stronger in the long run. Like the analogy of physical rehabilitation, your mental rehabilitation will be even more amazing.
Strength in Perseverance
There is also strength in the person who stumbles or falls and gets up over and over again. The mental resilience that builds up when you persevere and do not accept failure as your answer really does make you stronger. Not that you should plan to stumble, but if you do, how you respond will ultimately determine how strong you become. There is obviously strength in getting it right, too. That is the ultimate goal. But until you reach that point, you can strengthen your mental health by being determined to succeed, no matter how many tries it takes.
Your Strongest Self
You become your strongest self by always being willing to make your best effort. What your best effort is may not be the same as someone else’s. Likewise, your best effort may vary from day today. That is okay. As long as it is always your best effort, you will succeed. Your desire to be mentally healthy against all odds is what will make you stronger. Continuing to persevere no matter how much you stumble or fall is what will help you to become your strongest self.
The only way to be perfect in mental health is to be perfectly willing to get back up whenever you stumble or fall. You can be perfect by never giving up, never surrendering to failure. You have worked so hard to get here, and you are stronger than you think. Each day is a new day and another chance to learn and feel and be alive. As you continue in your commitment to yourself, never giving up, then you are truly living strong.
Remember the skills you gained at Potomac Programs. For questions call 1-855-809-0409. When you are determined to succeed no matter what, you are living strong.