When will I feel better? When will I be myself again? When will I be cured?
I have been asked many versions of these questions by many individuals over the years. These questions can just as easily be asked by someone seeking treatment for depression, anxiety, cancer, heart disease, or an injury. We want to know exactly when we will feel well!
The answer to these questions isn’t a simple one, whether you are working on your physical or mental health. The answers can be as unique as each individual who just wants to feel normal again. When a person who has just overcome a physical illness or injury looks back and tries to recognize the day they felt like themselves again, they will probably identify a day that they didn’t even think about the illness or injury. “But this could take days/months/years,” you say! You’re right! But that doesn’t mean that you sacrifice every day of that time at the altar of illness. You may not feel 100%, but you’re on your way to feeling better than you did yesterday.
In my opinion, mental health recovery is largely the same. It may take some time before you completely shake off old patterns or unhealthy thoughts, but every day spent in the service of wellness is admirable and precious. Wellness is grown, it doesn’t just materialize. The mental health fairy isn’t going to bring you everlasting joy (wouldn’t that be nice…?). Physical and mental wellness must be cultivated and nurtured and this process will invariably take time. The process is very much like growing a living thing. The idea of wellness has to be planted, it has to take root, and it has to be cared for every day. This process is worth starting as soon as possible.
In honor of Mental Health Awareness month, think about your own mental health. Are there any branches that need to be pruned? Any roots that deserve some watering? You deserve to feel well and whole. Your mental health deserves attention, care, and encouragement. It isn’t magic; it can take some hard work, but the process is rewarding and the results can be amazing.
By: Susana Marikle, PsyD