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  • ericaabraham

A Bumpy Recovery

When Nick got rid of his video games, it was the start of his recovery. It was not the day everything suddenly got better. There isn't a day we can circle on the calendar and say "from this day forth, everything was perfect and Nick no longer suffered". If you're supporting someone through recovery from a mental illness and expect there to be such a day, it would be wise to adjust that expectation.

That's not how recovery works.

Recovery is an ongoing, gradual process.

As hopeful as I was that he was finally making positive change, most days were still hard. Some days were very hard.

The positive was that Nick was starting to re-engage with life. He was going to work, helping out around the house, walking the dog, and going out and doing things with me again.

But, he had also just taken away his biggest compulsion. Video games were a distraction to his emotions, and now he was feeling everything. All the time.

The negative was that he was on edge most of the time. His suicidal ideations continued for several months and we still fought regularly.

In essence, he was engaging with life, but he was extremely uncomfortable doing so.

There were days where Nick felt he was finally getting a grasp on his recovery, only to feel the complete opposite the next day. He would have really high highs, followed almost immediately by really low lows.

What I started to realize is that the low days were actually the most important days. The low days are where most of the positive change is done. It's the time where he gets to practice the tools he has learned. The low days were essential in his recovery. If you think about it, this is the same for everyone. Growth usually doesn't happen when things are easy. Growth happens when you're forced to adapt and change.

As essential as the low days were, the fights usually happened on his low days. Like I said, we still fought regularly. We fought about his frustration that I didn't understand what he was going through. We fought about his suicidal ideations. We fought when he told me he'd never recover. We fought when he wanted to give up on his recovery, live in a trailer, and play video games all day. We fought when I tried to hold him accountable. We fought when I wouldn't give him reassurance (I'll do an entire blog post on this one and why it was essential for OCD recovery, in particular). We still fought... A lot.

Recovery is a roller coaster. It's bumpy, and it can be bumpy for a long time. But the ups and downs are completely essential to progress. As the sufferer starts to learn and practice the tools they need to recover, the bumps get a little easier to witness and bear. Eventually, the lows of the roller coaster don't go as low or last as long. Eventually, things start to even out. Until one day, when you look around and realize that it feels more like you're on a train instead of a roller coaster. And this is why there will never be a day you circle on the calendar... because recovery is gradual.

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