The joys of ‘recovering’ from mental illness

‘Recovering’ from a mental ‘breakdown’ is far from easy. One thing I have now come to realise is that despite external support from so-called ‘professionals’, absolutely no one can prepare you for how hard it is to deal with feeling better.

For days, weeks, months and years those closest to us have to deal with the roller-coaster of emotions and moods we display on a regular basis. They get used to speaking to us like we are morons, incapable of stringing sentences together let alone actually meaning what we say. Then there are the times when something happens and we react. BUT no, we don’t react like ‘normal’ people, instead our reactions are bizarre, over-the-top, our behaviour is questionable and quite simply we are are living on a different planet to those ‘sane’ folk around us.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is challenging at the best of times. Chuck on top a good helping of depression and sprinkling of social anxiety and you have yourself a combination which is so hard to comprehend for the sufferer is it any wonder that those around us avoid having to deal with anything of vague importance. The idea that you could possibly be feeling more ‘rational’ and ‘well’ in yourself is the biggest joke of all. You are even more dillusional than you were before.

Those ‘professionals’ who are tasked some what un-willingly (at least that’s how it has felt) to help aid recovery have all sorts of hurdles and obstacles for us to jump through to prove that we are doing better. Getting the psychiatrist or social worker to agree that you are no longer a danger to yourself takes months of providing evidence and a barrage of probing questions. But they never warn you about how hard it will be once you start to get better.

It’s painful and it’s little wonder that there are false starts and set backs with recovery. For me it’s the realisation of the time I have lost with my children and how badly I have let them down as their mother. Seeing things clearly is devastating and no amount of berating can undo all those things that have been neglected.

I find that I am now having to say to my kids that this isn’t mummy freaking out about something, but giving a telling off because they have done something genuinely wrong to deserve being told off. My husband I’ve had to ask to not speak to me like I’m a child or undermine me in front of the kids. I am permanently having to say to them that I’m here, the person with a logical brain, the capable parent and wife.

The hardest part is wanting them to stop thinking that all my moods are my illness and to accept that I am more in control than I have been. This is both the kids and my husband. It’s painful seeing how much we have been pulled in different directions and the damage that has been caused. I’ve known that my marriage was in difficulty but because of his fear of setting me back down into the depths of despair he hasn’t told me the truth.

It finally came out a few weeks ago and it was really emotional for us both. I can’t talk about it just yet, but it’s clear that I’ve pushed away all the people I care about the most and been so caught up in my own problems I’ve failed to be see things that were right in front of me.

Getting better means I see these things all too clearly and the easyoption would be to bury myself back into the pit I’ve been in and hide from it all. I want to punish myself all the time but I have enough recent scars to remind me of how sick I got. And if that isn’t enough I’ve got the people around me who are also scarred by all that’s happened. Difference is that there scars are worn on their faces and how they react to me.

The simple fact is that I didn’t do this on purpose, I would undo it all if i could, but despite it not being a deliberate act it has still had an impact on my family no matter what happens now.

For the past three months or so I have had a much clearer head than I have had in years. I am more focused and I have back some drive and ambition again. I have made a greater effort with the kids and I have begun to do things again without the debilitating fear taking over like going to tesco.

These things are great and I know that they are. They are a sign that the person I am is coming back to the surface and for my recovery these are essential. I hold onto these and remind myself that whilst the past cannot be undone and the present isn’t easy, the future can and will be better as long as i keep working at it.

The kids might need some time to get used to their mum being back and in control but that’s ok. And as for me and hubby, the main thing is that he’s still here and that hopefully in time he will believe that the worst is over and we can move forward. He will belive that the girl he fell in love with is still here. He has given me the time so although it’s hard and painful I can give him time too.

‘Recovery’ is incredibly scary, it’s almost easier to be lost to yourself and those who know you because in so many ways you can’t see the pain of those around you. But despite how hard it is, taking those small steps forward and rediscovering things is a wonderful thing. Seeing the kids laughing, joining in with things and remembering that you enjoy them is like suddenly being able to breathe again. It doesn’t feel so tight and restricting. You’re no longer sat on the sidelines watching, instead you’re a part of things and it makes you feel alive.

Things seem brighter and more vivid, tastes and smells are more intense, laughter is good, talking to friends is enjoyable, just being alive is precious and worth fighting for.

I don’t spend all my time with positive thoughts charging around my mind, I just take things as they come and try and enjoy things in that moment. If I feel sad then I let myself for that moment but instead of getting caught up in it I allow myself to let it go. If it takes a couple of days then that’s ok. It doesn’t make me a bad person, it just means that I have something that I need to deal with and that’s what Im doing. I also try to communicate more about what’s going on, this has made such a big difference for everyone in the family. The kids are at ages where they want and need their own space too so there is a level of understanding which allows for this to happen without it causing problems.

I hope that with time the obstacles we’re facing now as a family will be overcome and we can plan for the future with some more certainty. I refuse to give up on getting well. I will fight as hard as I can for as long as i have to. I know I’ve got support where it’s needed and that as long as I keep taking things day by day or hour by hour I will get where I need to.


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