Recovering from a Breakdown (5)

Recovery from a severe mental breakdown is undoubtedly the hardest task you will ever have to do in your life. Forget pushing babies down birth canals, passing kidney stones, losing the use of your limbs, or grieving for a loved one — fighting your way back to mental health or even maintaining emotional equilibrium while suffering from a chronic mental illness is the hardest battle of all, because it is a battle with the self. And there is no more difficult, cagier, or more elusive opponent. Hence we need all the help we can get.

Friends and family are the first line of defense, and mental health professionals the second. But we also have to learn to help ourselves, as we don’t always have access to other people at all times. We must learn to strengthen our own personal resources.

One of the simplest things we can do to help ourselves is to have a small set of sayings displayed around the house that touch us in some way. They act as reminders of what we can be, of what we can achieve, and what we need to remember. They have the power to ground us when we are caught up in a world of negative thoughts and actions.

Looking back at the first article in this series of “Recovering from a Breakdown”, I introduced the saying of Sidney Smith who stated:

“It is the greatest of mistakes to do nothing because you can only do a little. Do what you can.”

In the early days of recovery, this is an excellent statement to have pinned up on your wall, sticky-taped to the bathroom mirror, or placed in the photo flap of your wallet. By looking at it regularly each day, sayings such as these can give you the encouragement and motivation to try. Not necessarily to succeed every time, but to try.

As Woody Allen once said:

“80% of success is just showing up.”

Here, he is encouraging us to just try. At times, that is the most we can ask of ourselves.

In coming articles, we will look at the power of motivational statements and how to best use them to achieve recovery.

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