The path to mental health is an uneven process: for every two steps forward, you move one and a half back. But if you know this before you start walking, you’ll be less tempted to throw up your arms at the first relapse and say “to hell with it!”
My psychiatrist had to remind me of this lesson every session for about a year, until I reached a stable place.
I’d march into her office cheerful one week—ecstatic to be working again and laughing with my kids–and then, boom! It felt like I was as depressed and anxious as I was back in the psych ward.
It just felt that way since it happened after two weeks of feeling good, in the same way that 50 degrees feels like summer in January and winter in June.
In one session, Dr. Smith drew a zigzag line to illustrate the typical path of recovery to help me understand that I wasn’t pedaling in reverse. I was merely getting comfortable as a driver, and that recovering from severe depression, or making any kind of progress towards good health, is never perfectly symmetrical.
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