Let's Examine Recovery
Many of us don't know what a "sane" life is and thus
we are not aware of missing it. If you have come to the conclusion that you have
a mental health disorder and that your life is dysfunctional, you are on the
road to recovery already * if * you want to change your life. Awareness and a
willingness to change must come first.
My first true gut realization that my life was dysfunctional was the very first
time I actually existed outside of this dysfunctional life and dysfunctional way
of thinking. It was only for a few moments but it was long enough to realize
that there was "another world" and it felt like most of my life was
like living in a tunnel. Very hard to explain. You don't know that you are
living in it until you are able to come out of it.
It is very difficult to begin your road to recovery if you are living your life
from crisis to crisis as I did.
I think it is very important, no matter what you are enduring at present, to
take stock of your life. Examine it as best you can. Think of healthy people you
know and examine their life and then examine your own. Do some thinking here.
What things are different? Are those people making different choices in their
life? Does their life appear boring to you? Do you feel they are living a more
healthy existence because they are more loveable, more intelligent or more
special than you?
I remember sitting in the county mental health waiting room, experiencing one of
my usual crisis situations. I was examining the office staff as they worked.
They appeared to be calm, cheerful and seemed to fully have their minds on their
work. I wondered how this could be possible. Life for me was so tremendously
painful that I was unable to achieve what I was witnessing. Through all the
years I worked as a social worker, there were times that I was able to achieve
the above but it seemed that most of the time I was experiencing some sort of
inner crisis while I was on the job and I did everything I could to put my
professional mask on and not let this show.
I was not always able to do this. I had a high absentee rate at many jobs. Some
days I just had to go home early. I just could not "calm those inner
I had always thought that I was just a victim of life. It was not until my late
30's that my vocational rehabilitation counselor mentioned that I made poor life
choices. I had never made this connection before.
Are you making any poor choices in your life? Are these choices affecting your
life in any way? How can you make better choices in your life? It wouldn't hurt
to sit down and make a list of all the poor choices you feel you make and a list
of good choices you can make in the future.
My poor choices were directly tied in with my poor self-esteem, my lack of
knowledge about life and I am sure many of my choices were made on the
unconscious level, which somehow relates to my past. For example, it is common
for people that have come from abusive homes of origin to unconsciously pick
abusive mates. Why? Possibly because this is the only life the person knows and
feels comfortable with.
I chose men who were substance abusers for a long period of time. At the time I
felt they were fun, they were not available for a commitment and I was scared to
death of one. They were living dysfunctional lives as I was and I had a low
self-esteem and many times I was emotionally or verbally abused.
These men were fun because they knew how to escape from reality and I was always
up for that. "Let's not go to work today. Let's go up to Pete's Tavern and
have a few beers and take a look at the creek. Let's see if the creek is still
So for a period of time I wore two hats. I was a well-dressed well-rehearsed
professional social worker/counselor and a drunk redneck dressed in jeans, with
alcoholic boyfriends at the bars in the small towns of Oregon. I was truly proud
of my baseball hat that read "Member of the I Don't Give a Sh*$ Club."
I hope to get a few grins out of some of you. However during this time in my
life I was extremely mentally ill. I was 100% addicted to my boyfriends and
"could not exist without them."
As I look back on my life, I tolerated life much better and was much more open
for recovery treatment without a man in my life. If you are experiencing life at
this time feeling ill, I do * not * recommend that you become involved in a
romantic relationship period. This is pretty much standard advice across the
board and it is excellent advice.
In fact I would not even consider a relationship until you are well into
recovery for a year. Have your two feet underneath you. Get your self-esteem up
to par. Stop your mood swings. Figure out who you are and what you want from
life. Get on medications if that is what your Dr. recommends. Sometimes it will
take time to find the right combination of meds and the right dose. It is simply
a matter of trial and error many times.
You will need to learn to be comfortable being alone with yourself and learn to
like and love yourself before you get into a relationship with someone else.
Learn how to get out of bad relationships. Only when you are able to get out of
a relationship will you truly be free to be in one.
Many of you wonder at what moment you are to tell someone you are dating that
you have a mental health disorder(s). While there certainly is not a set
standard, I recommend trusting your gut on that. This information however is no
one's business during the initial stages of dating. Allow people to get to know
However, if you are now walking through life not realizing how precious, how
wonderful, beautiful, magnificent and important you are, then somewhere,
somehow, something has blinded you. You have forgotten who you really are. That
is the exact essence of who you are and you don't have to know it for it not to
be a fact.
It is important to know that you don't have to feel something for it to be
there, for it to be true. Your feelings about who you really are, are usually
skewed by life experiences. If you are depressed, you must know that your
cognitive skills, your whole thinking patterns are all distorted by your
depression. You have a depressed brain and you look through sad lenses at the
No matter how you feel, no matter what shape your life is in, no matter what you
have done or not done, no matter what anyone else has told you, you are a
precious, beautiful and marvelous human being!
Bipolar Disorder Today Newsletter
Join the BP
Today Newsletter for information, resources and support. Or, send a blank email here.
Mental Health Matters for information
and articles. Get
help to find
a therapist or list
your practice; and Psych
Forums for message boards on a variety of MH topics.
Copyright © Patty Fleener, M.S.W. All