I’m not OK but that’s OK

I’m not OK right now and, as someone who worked hard to get into and maintain recovery, I have a lot of shame around that. Because I have the tools, I know what to do, so I shouldn’t be here. But here’s the thing, turns out global pandemics are not great for mental health, routine or recovery.

The prolonged stress and anxiety has pulled the rug from under me. I did what I could, things that usually help; I focused on doing only the essentials, I nailed my self care, I talked to people, I made sure I had quiet/switched off time. But at some point my brain gremlins snuck back in and all those things became going through the motions rather than actually helping. Self care became “Instagrammable” self care, but self care isn’t all yoga, meditation and pretty crystals. Self care is eating, feeling my feelings, showering, crying, dying my hair, beating up pillows, admitting I feel awful and hopeless and admitting I feel ashamed of feeling that way.

So now I find myself in a situation where I know what I need to do but not only is doing it So Hard, I don’t actually want to do it. I don’t want to take care of myself because I don’t deserve it. All the awful thought cycles have taken hold again and just the idea of taking care of myself makes me hate myself more. I don’t want to fight a war against my emotions just to be able to fuel my body or because someone is nice to me.

There are people who are really suffering right now, they deserve to feel better, I don’t.

I will get through this because there was a version of me, just last month, who believed I deserve to feel OK. And there is a version of me in my future who will remember this and wish they could hug me and tell me they see my pain and that it’s OK to struggle.

But first I have to admit that this is how things are right now and I have to admit that I’m ashamed. Shame feeds all those awful thoughts but it can’t survive in sunlight so here’s the truth: my recovery isn’t “perfect,” it’s not a couple of mental health management check boxes that magically make me neurotypical. Sometimes I do everything I’m supposed to and it still falls apart. Sometimes I don’t do everything I’m supposed to. Sometimes everything is just too much. And that’s OK.

This is what recovery looks like. It can be hard and it can look just like pre-recovery, but it’s not because now there is a tiny piece of me saying “it’s OK that I’m struggling, it’s OK that I’m not on it like a car bonnet with self care, it’s OK to be in a really hard place again. It’s just not OK to give up and leave myself here.”

So I’m going to choose self care even while my brain kicks and screams at me not to. And if you’re here too maybe we can choose it together. We can see each other struggle and hold hands and do the tiny things that feel like climbing Everest.

Baby steps.

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