Recovery Is Anything But A Straight Line

Editor's note: Thank you, Dana for opening up about your mental health and for sharing your experiences of highs and lows with recovery. 

This was psych ward visit number four. That's four times too many. That number isn't counting the six months that I spent at a mental health residential facility - that stay was two years ago. I was so proud of the two years I was hospital visit free. I worked so hard!

Well, everything was great until recently...

I stopped taking my meds about four months ago. I was doing okay until something triggered a mixed manic depressive episode and I was once again in the ER being evaluated. I was feeling everything that was possible. Not only was I coming down from the mania and sliding into despair and hopelessness, but I was also ashamed to be in the hospital for the fourth time. How did I let those two years go to waste? All that work I did and here I once again sat, watching them "sanitize" the room of all the cords and wires. I felt like I was starting all over.

But here's the thing, I wasn't starting all over. I went into that visit with a mind set of getting my meds straight. I knew what I could say to get out of there early, but I didn't. I stayed the extra few days to make sure everything was going well so that when I left, I could start where I left off. This wasn't me starting over, this was just a swerve in the road. I know there is a chance that down the road, there might be a fifth visit, or even an eighth visit. That's okay! That means I'm still alive and fighting. It reminds me that I have survived 100% of my worst days.

Each and every visit, each and every heartbeat, I am alive and I am fighting.

Why is it important for you to share your story and experiences with mental health and illness?

It is important for me to share my story because I have lived in shame with my mental illness long enough. I have been gifted with this illness, all the good and bad; I get to feel beautiful highs and terrible lows. It has taught me how to empathize with others. I need to start sharing my story so others who might be in the same boat as I am won't feel so alone.

- Dana
Ohio, USA

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