Never give up on the recovery journey

I was chatting with my good friend Bill. He said, “Amy, did you tell me you were cured of bipolar disorder?” To which I responded, ” Unfortunately no. I’m on a lifelong recovery journey. Sometimes I have set-backs, but I keep on moving.” He smiled and said, ” we are all on that journey.”

If I’ve learned anything about recovery I’ve learned you can never give up. Sure, there will be set-backs. In fact there are just times when I just don’t feel good as a mortal human being. But people around me not understanding how bipolar works think, “Oh my gosh, is she depressed? Manic? Irritable? Must be an episode.”

That’s all part of recovery too. Learning to validate your feelings even when those around you want to blame your reality or emotions on a mental illness. You see those of us with mental illness don’t get a lot of latitude when it comes to emotions. You learn this the more you recover.

Recovery is for sure not a destination. If it were a highway or road it would be the highest mountainous dirt road you could find overlooking the ocean cliffs. There are bends in the road and you must make the turns. Eventually you get off the mountain for a while and the highway gets monotonous and flat. The challenge can sometimes be to enjoy those times.

I learned about a mental health advocate who was a psychologist who had schizophrenia. He survived being institutionalized under horrendous circumstances for over ten years. The medical outlook for him was bleak. Yet Dr. Frese escaped from the hospital, eventually put himself through college and turned around and helped hundreds of people who were in institutions just like him.

He recovered from those circumstances. I’m still amazed by his story and very sorry I never had the chance to meet him. He passed away a couple of years ago. May you Rest In Peace Fred Frese.

Wherever you are in your own mental health journey or perhaps a loved ones, know that recovery is real.

Never give up hope. Never give up on a person’s journey to recover.

Amy Gamble

Perfection is hard on our mental health

As hard as I try to hold myself to high standards, I’ve discovered I’m not a machine. I still look in the mirror and find a human being looking back at me, with all of my flaws, faults and positives as well.

Sometimes I expect so much from myself, when I make a mistake or say something wrong I ruminate over it. I’m terribly hard on myself, especially when I make mistakes or hurt someone’s feelings. Perfection, as we all know, is impossible. Yet, it’s something I’ve had to fight through most of my life.

A lot of people I’m sure can relate to what it’s like to strive for perfection. When you’re an Olympic athlete, high standards, drive, determination and – yes – sometimes even perfection helps us land on the world stage.

Then, the game is over and real life begins.

I’ve spent much time and resources in therapy over the years learning how to not ruminate over mistakes and learn how to give myself a break. I practice forgiveness of self and others. When I make mistakes I try to learn from it and quickly pick up the pieces and move forward.

Every now and then I hit a bump in the road. My healthy coping strategies go out the window and I land myself back into the swirl of playing the mistakes over and over and over again. Why did I do that? Why did I say that? How could I have done this better?

~sigh~

What I have learned is – there is really a tremendous amount of freedom in owning our truths. I own my perfectionism. I let it play out a little. I give myself a break. I learn from my mistakes. I might get frustrated. I might cry (much more rare for me). I shake my head. I smile. I laugh at myself.

And then…

I move on.

Because I have learned over the years if we hold on to perfection for too long and let it rule our lives, it will really take a dent in our mental health. It can trigger obsessive thinking, interupt sleep with thoughts that won’t stop and the list is goes on and on.

I’m very quick to forgive other people when they have wronged me. I’m learning it’s okay to quickly forgive myself too.

Here’s to recognizing our human imperfection! It’s okay not to be perfect. 🙂

Amy Gamble