February 4, 2015 was the last time I went inpatient for my mental health. This time I realized that dark place I had fallen into. I made the very difficult decision to get the highest level of care available to me.
That was almost seven years ago. Since then I have been in and out of therapy, hopped back onto the medicine merry-go-round, and even sought out some experimental medical treatments.
As you can imagine my recovery has been a bit of a roller coaster. Honestly, to some extent, it always has been.
While having mental illnesses is in no way my fault, managing my mental illnesses is my responsibility. Taking my medications as prescribed, having an open and honest relationship with my treatment team, seeking out resources, and effectively using my supports.
“Mental illnesses are medical illnesses that may have environmental triggers,” according to the NAMI Principal of Support.
To me, this means there are some things beyond my control.
This scares me.
The possibility that my medications may stop working one day. I may lose access to my resources. My therapist that I deeply trust may leave her practice one day and I may struggle to find someone who can help me the way she has. None of these things are a guaranteed staple for me.
Seven years can mean I’m running through a beautiful meadow with hidden landmines.
There is a seed of fear within me that I live with each day. There are times I’m blindsided by a trigger that snuck past my barricade of defenses. The seed sprouts. Other times I’m living my best life and the sprout gets squashed.
But, … the seed is still there.
Seven years doesn’t mean it’s gone away completely.
I try my best to not let this fear consume me. I still seek out the things that bring me my greatest joy. However, it would be irresponsible of me and detrimental to my recovery to pretend the seed isn’t there.
In the past seven years I’ve found myself in some challenging times. Thankfully none of them have brought me back to where I was in 2015. The nature of my mental illnesses, the hard truth, is that the possibility is always there.
Today was a pretty great day, but tomorrow may not be.
My recovery means examining all my emotions and behaviors. Was my reaction appropriate to the situation? What was the motivation behind the choice I just made? Is this a bad moment, a bad day, or is this the sign of something bigger?
My self awareness is essential. I need to be 100 percent unfiltered and honest about how I’m doing at all times. I can’t hide it from any of my supports. Above all that I can’t hide it from myself.
I didn’t plant the seed. I didn’t want the seed. I never asked for the seed. Yet there it is. Seven years ago and seven years from now. Having this seed is not my fault, but the seed is my responsibility.
Laura Kaponer is a mental health advocate and blogger, as well as a volunteer with the local chapter of NAMI. You can find her on social media by searching #Laurakaponeris1in5.