December 21, 2019
Just like a toddler learning to walk, recovering from mental illness or substance use can be like learning something for the first time, too. Sure, we thought we knew how to do life. But then we realized that we weren’t actually walking, we were limping or crawling mentally. Now we have taken the first steps to recover our mental health, and we need to learn how to do life properly. We need to learn how to stand on our own again.
Figuring it Out
After treatment is a crucial time. We find out just how much of what we learned actually stuck. We find out if we are as strong as we thought we were, and sometimes we realize that we are stronger than we thought we were.
A big part of figuring it all out is remembering to balance all of the things we talked about in treatment. Are we remembering medications if needed? Are we making and keeping our counseling and doctor appointments? Are we making healthy choices in our eating and sleeping habits? Are we staying clean and sober? There are a lot of new skills to maintain and a lot of new daily tasks that we need to remember.
As we wake up every day, we have the chance to do better than the day before. We do not have to do everything perfectly all at once. We can take baby steps and introduce new routines and habits gradually. For example, for one whole week, we can focus on remembering our medication, vitamins or anything specific we need daily for our health. Once that becomes a habit, we can move to the next step.
Get Back Up Again
When a toddler learns how to walk, there are many times when they stumble and fall. In order to learn how to walk, we also need to learn how to get back up again. Let’s say that we forgot a doctor’s appointment. That can be an expensive mistake financially, and it might impact our mental health because some doctors are not available to reschedule quickly. However, it is not the end of the world. It happened, we learned from it, and we don’t need to do it again.
Life is not about the mistakes we make, it is about what we learn from them and how we recover from them. The bigger crime would be to give in to emotional defeat after making a mistake, to blame ourselves and wallow in guilt instead of just getting back up, brushing ourselves off, and trying again.
Think of it like an Olympic figure skater or a runner. If they fall, they can choose to stay down and guarantee defeat. Or they can get back up and finish what they started. The best athletic performances are often not the perfect ones. Sometimes, the best athletic performances are the ones where the athletes make mistakes and recover to an inspiring finish. We can be like that. When we stumble in our new habits, we can get right back up and be even stronger and even better.
As we learn to walk again with our mental health, practice becomes perfect. We gain confidence as we gain awareness of where our function level is and are able to solve our issues. It is important to not become cocky or complacent in our mental care, because we can lose our good habits if we become overconfident. Too much confidence does not allow us room to properly judge where we are at and make corrections, if necessary. It sounds like the opposite, but humility can help us to gain the confidence that we need to continue making and keeping good habits.
On My Own is Not Alone
We often refer to independence as doing something on our own. But sometimes it takes more independence to ask for help. It is actually a more self-sufficient skill to recognize when we need help and to be able to ask for it. Learning to recognize when we are overwhelmed or sinking toward prior habits, behaviors, and thoughts is one of the most independent skills that we can gain. It means that we are recognizing our needs, and are willing to not only admit that we cannot do this on our own, but that we need help. That is brave and powerful.
Acknowledging Our Journey
It is important that we remember where we started to fully appreciate where we are. Just like looking at baby pictures and watching the growth, we can look back at where we started our mental health journey and the steps we took to achieve the health we enjoy now. Sometimes we forget just how much work it has taken and we don’t give ourselves credit for taking a weakness and turning it into a strength. We need to give ourselves credit for being a superhero of mental health.
We started at the bottom, now we’re here. Like a baby that learns to walk and stand on their own, you can learn to walk again mentally and emotionally. You can learn to get up again when you stumble and you can take this challenge and make it into your superpower. You may have started in crisis, but now you can learn to stand on our own.
You’ve got this. You know what to do, and you are already doing it. Just keep it up. Potomac Programs can be a reference point of mental health for you. For questions call 1-855-809-0409.