ONE STEP FORWARD, TWO STEPS BACK
This is my first thought whenever I have a bad mental health day. Whenever I need to schedule another appointment with one of my mental health providers or I have major anxiety.
One step forward. Two steps back.
But why? Taking two steps back means you are moving backwards. Undoing progress. No one wants to move backwards. We live in a world that is forward focused. We live for the future and striving to get better every step of the way. So in the case of mental health, when I think my problems are solved and then they arise again, I think that I am taking steps backwards.
I want to break down why, in my life, this is an absolute lie. It's a lie that easily takes the form of first person, where I tell myself that I am no better than I was a year ago, nothing is working, and I am a burden.
Resurfacing issues is not a reversal of progress
It's so easy for me to think that whenever I'm feeling better, I will feel that way for the rest of my life. I will never struggle with those problems again, and I am completely healed. This is where the lie starts. In my experience, I have never seen someone have major issues that never affect them again for any minute of the rest of their lives. It's an unrealistic expectation. Problems will arise. Sometimes unexpectedly, with a trigger, and sometimes not. And that. Is. OK. You can not always control what comes in your mind and every reaction you have to them. Sometimes it's just unexplainable. So remove the pressure of believing that issues will never resurface. You can't blame yourself for that. Give yourself grace.
Getting help is not moving backwards
I've seen a lot of therapist, nutritionists, nurse practitioners, naturopaths, massage therapists, acupuncturists, and psychiatrists. They have all played a part in my healing journey of mental health. When there are times that issues resurface, and I'm having a hard time moving on from them, it's OK to go back for help. And I'm not moving backwards by getting help. It's actually a statement of strength to be able to say that I am struggling, I know I can't do this alone, and I need help. We value independence in our society, and that makes it hard to accept vulnerability and a need for help.
We are all weak.
Does that sound like a bad thing? It probably does. Weakness is seen as such a negative. But none of us can do life alone. So what is more beautiful than leaning into the weakness that we all have, accepting that we need help, and allowing someone to walk alongside on this journey.
Mental health issues are not two steps back
I know that I can't even begin to walk forward on my journey if I'm constantly playing into the lie that I am not worthy or loved because of any mental health issues that I have. I stay pretty dang stationary if I don't first get rid of the judgment I hold over myself. When my mind is already struggling under the weight of the surrounding issues, I can easily break when I turn against myself and give myself the extra burden of judgement.
Everyone has brokenness. We wouldn't need a Healer and a Redeemer if we weren't. This brokenness is what makes each story so beautiful.
That does not mean that I want to sit in this brokenness. Of course I want to walk into the light that I know is constantly surrounding me and before me. But it does mean that this brokenness is OK. It has already been redeemed. It has already been made new. It is a beautiful grace-filled story that I can be proud of because of my weakness that is made strong in the Lord.
Each journey is so different. I can't and won't begin to try and understand anyone else's journey through pain and brokenness, whether it has to do with mental health or not. These are just the lies and truths that I have found, struggled with, and will continue to struggle with. But the bottom line is that I'm not moving backwards. I'm moving forward every single day because I have someone else who is making beauty out of my ashes.