The Case For Continued Healing
My therapist keeps graduating me but...
I graduated from support group but...
I don't know if this means I need to go back to therapy but...
I've been living with this for 5 (or 10 or 15) years, when will it end?
This is what I've been hearing from moms in my email, in posts in The Mom Center, in private messages, and on my Facebook posts. We all have some idea that health, and especially mental health, is binary. You're healthy - or you aren't. You need support, or you don't. But humans are simply way more complicated than that.
Binary thinking rarely serves us.
It is possible to be okay and to be struggling at the same time. We can be healthy and be hurting. We can be healed and yet never be the same as we were. We can be amazing mothers, wives, partners, siblings, friends, bosses, coworkers - PEOPLE - all while struggling with our mental health or while we reach for growth.
I've personally been living with a diagnosis of depression for nearly 20 years now, and with anxiety and PTSD for five. There are days when I sail through life and days when I struggle. I know the things that support my health and I (generally) do a good job of utilizing them. But all around me are folks who want to say that I'm "healed" or that I've graduated from some level of sickness - as if any of this works that way.
I work with moms who are in therapy. I work with moms who have undiagnosed and untreated issues. I work with moms who have graduated from support groups and therapies. I work with moms who have no mental health issues but who are struggling within the bonds of motherhood. I work with all types of moms - ages, races, orientations, and incomes. What I have seen is that healing and growth are like a rainbow painted in watercolor. Each layer or level blends into the one before and the one after. We slide up and down and through them. Some of us cycle, some have seasons, some move in a relatively straight path, some dwell in the margins where the colors bleed together.
But far too often I see people proclaim themselves healthy and drop all of the supports they've used. Folks quit medications, stop therapy, leave support groups, they make all kinds of changes without considering how they will replace that support. I'm not saying you necessarily need any of those things forever. I am saying that the things we do to get healthy work for a reason and that in order to keep progressing in our healing we must continue to focus on those needs.
None of us are meant to do this alone - this whole life thing. It seems hard because it is hard. We are complicated, we are messy and beautiful and complex. We need and learn and give sometimes all at the same time. And we can grow.
The trick (if there is one) is in finding out what helps YOU to live your life in a healing way. What is it that you need to continue to grow? Your needs may change over time, they may be completely different from mine, and society may try to tell you that you're healthy now so you don't actually need them. But I want you to know that your needs are valid and that you are the expert on them.
If you're a survivor of postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD, psychosis, or PTSD - I've created a program just for you. It's called Recovering From Recovery and enrollment is open.
Please don't stop reaching for growth. Please don't stop healing.