Navigating the Revolving Door of Recovery: A Journey of Hope and Resilience

06 Oct 2023
Katie, one of headspace Albury Wodonga's Youth Reference Group members, shares her story of her journey to recovery.

Navigating the Revolving Door of Recovery: A Journey of Hope and Resilience

By Katie

I'm sharing my story for you: the one who's had a rough week, the one weighed down by a heavy burden, the one uncertain about how much longer you can hold on, and the one fighting to recover. My recovery journey has often felt like a revolving door, an endless cycle that never seemed to stop, but I want you to know that one day it will.

Choosing to fight for recovery was and still is the hardest decision I've ever made. Recovery is a complex path. Some days, you'll find yourself with all your strength dedicated to the battle, journaling, being active, attending therapy, confronting your fears, and even managing to shower. But on other days, no matter how hard you try, you can't seem to get out of bed, feel completely hopeless, and don't want to help yourself. It's important to understand that even on those days when you can barely hold on, you're still fighting to recover.

I used to get wrapped up in the quote "I came to realise I wasn't fighting; I was just surviving," but I want you to know that if you're trying your best, you are indeed fighting for recovery, even if all you can do is survive.

I've endured many traumatic experiences throughout my life, which have taken a toll on my mental health since I was just 7 years old. Now, at 18, I'm in the midst of my recovery journey. I intimately understand what it's like to be consumed by my mental health struggles.

People often say you can only help someone if they want to help themselves. While this statement isn't entirely false, I want to challenge it. It might be more challenging and take longer to assist someone with this perspective, but having someone hold onto hope for you can keep you going longer than you might think. Deep within you, there's something in this world worth liking that can keep you afloat. I know this because I had given up on myself. I had lost nearly everything I had worked so hard for, stopped attending school, had to quit my job, gave up sports, and believed I couldn't maintain friendships (or so I thought). What keeps me going during the times when I don't want to recover is my connection to my friends and some family. They hold out hope for me because sometimes I have none left for myself. They can't fix me, but their unwavering hope helps me find a tiny spark within me that I want to recover.

As I mentioned earlier, recovery is a journey; for me, it often feels like a revolving door. Through therapy and hospitalisations, I've come to understand that what truly matters are the things that give life meaning. I value helping people and aspire to positively change the mental health system, even if it benefits just one person. This realisation has become my motivation to focus on recovery because I know that staying in this world and helping even one person is far better than causing harm to those who care about me.

Today, I'm trying to learn how to fight for myself and hold onto hope for myself. On those challenging days when I can't get out of bed and neglect self-care, I challenge myself. I'll eat something in bed, engage in a puzzle, or simply moisturise my face. I do something small to care for myself and remind myself that it's okay. Recovery is physically and mentally exhausting, and it's perfectly fine to take a break from the world and recharge.

About a month ago, I experienced one of the best moments I've had in a long time. However, as I've mentioned, recovery isn't linear. I walked into school one day only to discover that people had been bullying me. Bullying has been a recurring issue throughout my schooling, and the hurtful comments hit me hard. Despite some people in my school knowing parts of my story, they still made these comments, causing me considerable distress. These same hurtful comments are prevalent on social media and so-called 'recovery' accounts that glamorise mental health using insensitive language like 'grippy sock vacation.' It's important to remember that such comments can invalidate and hurt people. To cope with these comments, I've chosen to raise awareness of the reality of mental health on social media.

Recovery is undoubtedly challenging, but what has made the biggest difference in my journey is discovering the things I value and using them as motivation to take small steps toward my goals.