On Wednesday I was writing about the importance of looking how far you’ve come and noticing your progress without comparing it to that of other people. However, I understand that when we’re looking back we may also notice times when we’ve taken a step backwards and fallen back into a behaviour we thought we’d gotten rid of. So I wanted to remind you all that it’s okay to slip up.
We’re fighting a battle here. Every day we’re fighting against the monsters in our brain that seek to control and destroy us. People get knocked down in battle every now and then, it’s not surprising, nor is it something for which they should feel guilty. What I’m trying to say is that this is hard, living with a mental illness is not easy by any stretch, so when we mess up and fall back a little that’s not something that should fill us with overwhelming guilt. It probably will make us feel bad, but we don’t have to.
Recovery is an ongoing process. I’ve left the recovery service behind and been discharged from the mental health service, but I’m still recovering. This illness still has its roots in me and I have to shake them off every day without fail. Sometimes I’m not strong enough. Sometimes I fall back into easier and more harmful patterns which I thought I’d managed to stop.
A little while ago I cut myself. I’d not self-harmed for over year and it felt like a huge step backwards. The disappointment and guilt over what I’d just done was even worse than the initial upset which had led me to doing it! I thought I’d undone over a year of hard work in that split second. But that wasn’t true.
I hadn’t undone all of the hard work. What I’d had is a blip. I made a mistake in that moment because I’m not perfect and because life is a constant fight. I’d lost one tiny battle but decided that if I forgave myself for this little error I could still win the battle. If you feel like you’ve taken a step backwards, please remember it’s only a step or two. You’re still further on than you were, you’re still making progress and can continue to do so. Don’t allow that guilt or disappointment to continue to unravel that progress. You can still move forward, just keep taking those little steps.