We are a society that likes results fast. We went from drive-thru lanes at fast-food restaurants to having Uber Eats bring our meal to us. Now, we can pull into a parking spot at the grocery store and have people bring our groceries right out to our car at the designated time. Or, we can just have our groceries brought right to our house. Two-day shipping has become the norm and we can obtain entire degrees online without having to inconvenience ourselves with going to class. There’s no denying, we like things done fast. But, when it comes to mental health, recovery is a journey, not a sprint. It’s full of ups and downs and twists and turns. However, while we are on the journey, we can make plenty of discoveries and find hope along the way.
Finding hope in the journey
Acknowledging that mental health recovery is a journey is an important first step to making progress and finding hope. If you expect the process to be fast and easy then every setback that you experience can feel overwhelming. It’s important that you know that your journey at times might feel like you are taking two steps forward and one step back. Don’t let that stop you from staying the course. When you accept this from the start the low points won’t make you want to throw in the towel. They are simply another part of the journey and a sign that you need to keep going.
Why the journey is a good thing
Let’s step back and think about a journey from a traveling perspective instead of a mental health perspective. If you go on a journey it’s something that you look forward to. Journeys are fun. We don’t want to rush through it to reach the end destination quickly. When we want to do that, we “go on vacation”. When you go on vacation or take a trip the entire thing is about the end destination. But when you go on a journey the experience is what you are after. It’s not about getting to that last location, it’s about all of the things you are seeing and experiences you are having along the way.
We don’t think of it the same way though when it comes to our mental health. We want to be “fixed” or “better” as soon as possible. So, we don’t want to enjoy the process of getting to that point, we just want it to be over. But there’s a lot that we can learn by shifting our mindset. Here are a few reasons why the journey to recovery is a good thing:
You learn about yourself
You learn a lot about yourself on a journey. Every person that goes on a journey is faced with setbacks and difficulties from time to time. The way you handle those setbacks teaches you something about yourself. This helps you start to identify the triggers that seem to cause you to struggle time and time again. You being to learn to watch out for them and be prepared.
But you also learn good things from a journey. You have a chance to try new thing and learn new ways to view or think about ideas. And, you discover habits that help you and activities that bring you joy.
You learn about the importance of other people
There is a show on the Discovery Channel called Alone. People are placed in beautiful but remote locations completely alone. They have few supplies and the entire purpose is for them to survive longer than the others that are competing. They don’t have interaction with each other, there is no set end date, and they have no idea when other contestants quit. It’s interesting to watch why people decide to quit and go home. Sometimes it’s because they are hungry or scared of wild animals. But, more often than not, it’s because they are lonely. They miss having a support system to rely on.
Having social support is a very important part of the journey to mental health recovery. Having an inner circle of family or friends that can tell when you are struggling even when you won’t openly admit it can help you through the lows you experience. They can also celebrate with you through the good times.
Participating in a support group can show you that you aren’t alone in your journey. There are many others that are working through the same struggles that you are. You can also learn from the stories of others that have made the journey before you. Just like someone that is getting ready to embark on a journey such as climbing Mt Everest would read and study about others that have gone before them, you can learn from those that have recovered from mental health challenges.
Getting help with your journey
If you were planning on traveling the world would you do a little prep work before you left? Of course, you would. It would be unwise to set off on a journey like that without having a plan in place to help you along the way. Your mental health journey is no different. If you want to be on the road to recovery, I urge you to talk to a mental health professional like a local therapist. They can help you create a plan to recovery. And, they can help you along the path as things change, which they will.
The plan to recovery is not often a one and done type of plan. It’s a fluid plan that can be adjusted as needed throughout your life. If you were headed down a road and found that the path was full of holes wouldn’t you look for another road to take? The same thing can happen as you are working towards recovery. If you find that was part of your plan is no longer working for you then it’s time to try something new.
So, remember, you will experience ups and downs along your path to mental health recovery. But, if you are prepared and acknowledge that this will happen from time to time, and have a strong support system in place, you can take the journey as it comes and find hope in it along the way.