This year wasn’t my toughest but it’s the year I learned the most.
I knew my anxiety and other mental health issues would brave the war that is the COVID-19 pandemic because I had been through worse – or at least this was my mindset last March.
I was scared about what was to come but felt as though I had learned the skills I needed and done the work for me to be able to stay calm during this crisis. But no one could have been prepared to face the catastrophe that hit our world.
Not even two years of therapy could prepare me for this.
So, I found myself with a lot of time to spend in my own head. Sometimes, that can be a pretty dark place to be. Things started off well and I felt as though I was coping fine, but my mental health soon began to deteriorate, and I found myself back in a place filled with destruction, self-hate, and re-living trauma.
Which was made all the worse by me beating myself up for not being able to practise my skills and coping mechanisms that keep me healthy and safe. This is something I had convinced myself I would be able to do before all of this unravelling.
After some time of not being so ok, I began to realise that this wasn’t like my other relapses. There were times before when I had faced setbacks when I was never able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Everything was always one-sided: it was a very dark side.
However, this time, and for the first time, I began to feel this passionate want to save myself. To be ok and so I pushed and pushed myself to see things from a different perspective.
I realised I hadn’t unlearned the skills or lost my coping mechanism, they were still very much there, I just had to allow myself the safe space to practise them. But more importantly, I realised that the pandemic hadn’t triggered me into taking a thousand steps back but put me in a place where I could realise, I had the strength to pull myself back up.
That the sometimes-unbearable work and effort I had been putting into myself for the past two years wasn’t for nothing; it was healing me. Bit by bit, day by day.
I see my life with a whole different perspective now, I still have a way to go in my recovery and it is something I will be working on for the rest of my life probably. But I am no longer trying to fix myself or see myself as broken.
I wanted to be a shiny new penny who was all glued together and that is what I was striving for; to erase my past so that it didn’t define who I am. But trauma doesn’t work like that, and I know that now.
I have realised that my past can be a part of me without defining who I am and bettering myself by working on my recovery every day is me recovering. It is an ongoing process where each day I am a little more healed than the last, and setbacks and relapses don’t disregard how far I have already come.
It feels amazing to finally be in a place where I can see everything clearly and I am no longer striving to fix myself, I’m just striving to give myself what I deserve and what I need.
Now, I remind myself everyday, that i am worth the effort it takes to heal.
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