Acceptance is incredibly hard for me.
I’m working on a Recovery-oriented page to add to my website and I’ve been working on it for months. It’s hard for me to accept that this is part of my life and I need to embrace it.
My recovery involves Mental Illness and Trauma. Some of my story I have been open with ~ my Post-Partum Depression, my not-so-ideal childhood, my identification as a Wounded Healer. Yet I haven’t fully embraced my involvement in recovery. My goal is to share my story, yet it’s not as easy as I seem to think it should be.
Sticking with Post-Partum Depression is easy and embracing. While there is still a ton of stigma surrounding PPD, it’s much more acceptable than Borderline Personality Disorder or Dysthymia – both of which I have been diagnosed with over the years. PPD was real to me, and still is, yet it manifested itself because of my extensive history of other mental health issues. I sometimes wonder how severe my PPD would have been if it weren’t for my existing conditions.
Perhaps it’s the stigma of Mental Illness. Perhaps it’s the assumptions we make about those among us who have survived traumatic experiences. Perhaps it’s our limited view of recovery as something specific to those who have abused substances and are now clean. Recovery means so much more to me than that limited definition. I am in recovery and I struggle every day. My recovery does not solely involve the use and/or abuse of substances. Some people (professionals and otherwise) may say that I am not, in fact, in recovery for this reason. This is a shift in our profession.
I am building a beautiful life for myself. I have a loving husband, we’ve decided to have one child, and we are living a calm, manageable life. To our neighbors, we probably seem “normal” in every sense of the word. And I’d like to think that we are actually normal most of the time. Yet I am on some heavy medications and I receive regular and intensive therapy. Perhaps I would not be so normal if not for those interventions.
This is what I have to accept. That I need those medications and therapy to be even and seemingly normal. That my temperament can handle only one child. That no matter how well things are going, I continue to have nightmares and triggers related to my trauma and mental illness. This is what I need to face each day.
I know I am a gifted clinician and social worker based on my experiences. I know that I am working hard to overcome my past. I am the person I am today because of all the hard work I have dedicated myself to. Yet, I can’t help but wonder what my life would be like if not for all that I have endured. Would it be better, worse, the same? And how am I so different from the clients I serve? I could very easily be on methadone or have had multiple inpatient stays, or just escaped suicide. I can’t help but believe that I am here to help others escape the darkness and find some light.
This is the reality I have to accept. It’s difficult and painful, yet I need to embrace it and make sense of it. My way of making sense is by giving back. Being the Wounded Healer. Giving a voice to those who are unable to speak for themselves. Enriching the profession of Social Workers to continue to care for those that society has cast aside.
I know my purpose in life. I know that I will continue to struggle and have bad days, but I also know that I am enriching the lives of others. And in turn, I am also making my own life fulfilling and gratifying. I am healing some of my own wounds.
I can accept that.
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