24/7 Hotlines: Call or text 988 or text 741741
Working on your mental health isn’t easy. I wish it was all rainbows and butterflies, but it isn’t it, it’s tough. I have learned a lot of hard truths about myself and the world around me while trying to heal from my trauma.
Believe it or not, there are still a lot of people who think mental illness isn’t real. There are people who think therapy is a waste of time. There are people who are just waiting for you to fail. You might even lose friends because they’re not ready to change their lifestyle. When I chose to become sober, there were definitely people who just couldn’t understand why I was choosing not to party and drink. There will be people who don’t support you and just aren’t good for your recovery. But it especially sucks when it’s your family or the people you thought were your friends.
There were a lot of things that happened to me where I felt like I needed answers in order for me to get over it. The truth is, there are a lot of situations where you won’t get closure and that’s okay. Sometimes, you have to come to terms with what happened without getting an apology or explanation. You just have to accept it for what it was and move on. If you choose not to move past it, you will be stuck in that moment and trust me, living in the past can be hell. You can’t rely on others to give you the closure you need.
Time does not heal all. Time is not a giant, magical band-aid that fixes things. If you’ve had a traumatic experience, it will probably stick with you. It might get easier to manage the trauma through different coping skills and therapy, but there is a good chance that it is something that will affect you for the rest of your life. You can’t expect time to heal everything, especially if you aren’t taking the necessary steps to try and heal. There are still things from my past that haunt me and force their way into my brain. I wish time would make me forget, but it doesn’t.
Recovery is not linear. There will be ups and there will be definitely downs. There were so many times that I was in therapy thinking “I’m healed!” but then as soon as I stopped therapy, my mental health would decline once again. I found that when I was not in therapy, I was not actively working on my mental health because I had just assumed I was healed. I was probably doing so well because I had someone holding me accountable and I had a space every week for me to sit down and work through things. I’m able to hold myself accountable better now because I’m more self-aware, but I still have those ups and downs. Sometimes even when I’m doing the work, life shoves me down and I am a mess again. You cannot just give up when things start to get dark again, you have to keep going. Things really do come in waves.
You cannot expect anyone to fix things for you. You have to want to work on yourself. If you’re just going through the motions because someone is telling you to, you’re not going to be able to heal. There’s a lot of inner work that you have to do in order to heal and help your mental health. Having a therapist can help guide you in the process because we all have to start somewhere, but even with guidance, you have to want to follow that guidance and care about helping yourself. You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot force them to drink it. You have to want it for yourself.
There is no quick fix. Medication can help, but it isn’t a fix all, it works best if you do it with other methods (such as therapy). Therapy can help, but it won’t be instant and honestly, the beginning can be absolute hell as you start to really get into the deep stuff. Healing takes time. Honestly, it’s really more of a lifelong thing. My anxiety, CPTSD, and traumas will be with me for as long as I live. I will have to actively be mindful for the rest of my life.
Just because something works for one person, it does not mean that it will work for you. I think the negative thing about social media is people are always posting what works for them. People literally beg influencers to post their routines and habits and what’s worked for them in hopes that it will solve all of their problems. There is no one size fits all when it comes to recovery. Medication works for some, but it doesn’t work for others. Meditation might work for some, but it might not work for someone else (for me, being alone in my body is an absolute nightmare and it sends me into a panic attack every time because I feel like I’ve died and gotten trapped in my body). Going to the gym might be someone’s saving grace, but it could become an unhealthy obsession leading to an eating disorder for another. Everyone is so different.
Healing is no stroll in the park. You have to go deep into the trauma in order to heal. You have to sit with your negative feelings instead of shoving them down. I remember there were times I was in therapy and we were getting into some of my issues that were root causes of a lot of my trauma responses. During those times, I was not able to function in my everyday life. I was hysterically crying because in order to heal, I had to deal with those things so I could really understand myself and where my issues stemmed from. It was hard, but now I am self-aware and able to pin-point where a lot of my trauma responses come from.
Pretending everyone is okay does not make everything okay. Being able to convince others that you’re fine doesn’t mean that you are fine. I am guilty of shoving my negative emotions down and not dealing with them for the sake of others. I can tell you from experience that the outcome of that was NEVER good. Eventually, all of the negative shit would just build up and I would literally just snap and lose it. Of course on the outside, people had no idea there was anything wrong because I had just pretended that everything was great. All they saw was the result of me shoving everything down
Did you know trauma really does change you? I’ve had people tell me I’m just dramatic and that it’s all in my head, but it’s not. Trauma literally rewires a person’s brain. The way I respond to a lot of situations is directly related to past traumas. Situations that seem very normal and not stressful to someone who hasn’t experience trauma send me into fight or flight. Trauma makes it harder for me to regulate my emotions. Sometimes I get anxious for seemingly no reason and my body will stay in that fight or flight mode for what feels like hours. It’s because my brain has literally been changed by trauma. There are things I can do to help ease the symptoms, but this is something that I will live with for the rest of my life.
If you’re curious to the actual science of how trauma effects the brain, check out How Trauma Changes The Brain.
These are just some of the hard truths I have learned while I have been working on myself. I’m sure there are so many others. Recovery can be so draining and tough mentally. But, I promise you, it’s all worth it in the end.
What hard truths have you learned while working on your mental health?
© 2023 TurningPointCT.org. All Rights Reserved.