How recovery feels for me

Summary: I’m recovering, it takes forever, I thought it would be Grand but it isn’t, it’s very weird, pretty fascinating, and also quite boring.

When my mind finally collapsed on me, I didn’t believe that things would (or could) ever get better. I saw ‘recovery’ as some blissful turning point after which all my Issues would be Dealt With, and then I would collect my Certificate of Normalcy and go on my merry way, being Recovered for the rest of my life. I didn’t ever see that happening. Now, some nine years later, well, that didn’t happen indeed. Something else has happened though, something that comes a little bit closer to the actual meaning of recovery:

It’s kinda frightening and kinda exciting and very strange. I used to dance and dangle on the edge of death having to do all kinds of stuff merely to stay alive. It was very grand and very exhausting. I never had to think – and so I never thought – about why I was there because I was always very busy simply staying there, not falling of. Now I’m just, I don’t know, in some field. I still have no idea why I’m here or what I’m doing, but I’m just rolling with it I suppose. Something that I find pretty hard to come to terms with: it’s kinda boring. Being alive is just my state of being now (which, incidentally, is also what being alive means, I might add). In general, I think, people dislike and mostly try to avoid boredom because it makes them feel things; recovery is some kind of existential boredom that makes me feel all these feelings (pleasant and not) that is life, and it can no longer be avoided. Nothing happens when I let go. Sometimes I let go expecting some Grand Epic Scene to ensue, and there I am. In my field. Well, then.

The constant adrenaline of growing up in a disruptive environment and/or of spending your time in your own exciting little life-and-death world is addicting, and it feels very empty when that falls away. I felt as if there was nothing left of me, as if I was evaporating into thin air. Of course, 1,5 years later, I am still here, which is to say that there was, in fact, something left of me. I just didn’t feel it. Life, when you just let it happen, is pretty mundane, and so recovery is too. It’s a process during which your symptoms just gradually diminish. There is no nice, wrapped-up ending to which one can point and say, ‘There, all better now’. To me, now, recovering feels more like a journey of learning – or trying to learn – to know and understand myself, my actions, my wishes and longings, my fears; the world and my place in it, how to deal with its crippling injustice, my cumbersome powerlessness therein; the why’s and how’s of life – in other words, something that everyone is (or should be) engaged in, some more than others. Your wrestle yourself free from whatever monsters were living in your mind and then suddenly you are stuck with these never-ending existential questions, and finding your way feels even harder than before. My mental illness has never been a solely internal discomfort; it and I are irrevocably tied to the state of our world, and it’s not a small thing that we are running from. But that’s life, and I’m tired of running.

Recovering is both the hardest and the most mundane thing I have ever engaged myself in. It’s like a place in between places. I feel as if I’ve grown up in a different world, and now I’m in this place where nothing makes sense to me, nothing is predictable and everything just does whatever the hell it wants. I can still see that other world, whenever I look in the mirror, whenever my hand makes its old-familiar way along my collarbones, whenever my gaze brushes over the blueish-white strokes on my lower left arm. Sometimes I feel a homesickness for it so overwhelming I can barely breathe. Every day, still, I have to be careful not to step back into that other world, where everything is safely organized and deadly bright. It’s getting easier, though; never easy, but easier as I slowly find my way along.  And getting used to the lack of adrenaline, it’s also getting less boring. There are a lot of small, beautiful things in my field. I just had to learn how to look.

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3 thoughts on “How recovery feels for me

  1. This was amazing to read. Thank you. This was very real and I am thankful to have had someone right it. I am just at the beginning and I am so happy to have someone tell me its not a miracle treatment that will happen right away. Thank you

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    1. Oh thanks for telling me that, I’m really glad that my tiny words could be a tiny hand in someone’s life! And I wish you all the strength you need finding your way through this strange little life of ours! Just let it happen I think is the key, in the end (we always seem to be fighting back) – which is hard to do but also very simple.

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