Mental illness recovery isn’t a finish line, it is a day-to-day grind

‘Mental illness is a beast. It is painful. It is lonely. However, recovery is possible’

Kevin J. Sabo

By Kevin J. Sabo

For the Castor Advance

I have never been shy in talking about the fact that I deal with mental illness.

Initially diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in the early 2000s, that diagnosis was joined by post-traumatic stress disorder in 2013 thanks to my career working in Emergency Medical Services.

From 2013 to 2017, I was pretty much in freefall. I hit rock bottom. I was suicidal. I was in significant emotional pain. I couldn’t engage with life. I spent more time than I care to think about in hospital and in therapy, trying to get a handle on my issues. It seemed like things were a lost cause.

Without even realizing it, though, things began to change. The change was subtle at first. I still attended a lot of therapy and worked at recovery. There was no flashing neon sign to let me know when I was entering into recovery from my mental illness.

Instead, I noticed the little things. I was sleeping better. My moods were no longer so dark. I saw that my periods of suicidality were further and further apart, and they were much less intense than they had been previously. My moods stabilized. I got more energy. I was able to function at a higher and higher level.

Over the last year, I have witnessed exponential growth in myself. I’ve been able to take on more work, as well as maintain at a high level in my schooling.

I cannot emphasize enough, that this success in recovery did not come overnight. It came by grinding on day after day. It came by putting in the work and facing the challenges head on.

Mental illness is a beast. It is painful. It is lonely.

However, recovery is possible.

Recovery isn’t a finish line though. It is a slow process that never ends. It is doing the little things in life that help give it meaning. It is doing the things that help keep you healthy. It is going to bed early. It is taking your medications. It is knowing your limits.

Entering recovery doesn’t mean that my diagnoses have gone away, it just means that I can now mentally co-exist with them and have a life worth living. At the end of the day that is what it is all about.

Mental illness is a challenge, but it is not the end of the world. Help is available in both public settings through Stettler Mental Health, and in private settings with a variety of providers around the region. Most work benefits have mental health coverage of some sort as well.

I guarantee you that working at recovery in mental illness will be the hardest work you will ever do, but it can also be the most rewarding. Don’t you owe it to yourself to try?