I often wonder if the concept of “being better” exists. What does it mean to be better?
When it comes to my mental health, I am constantly getting better. But will I ever actually be better?
Does being better mean that I no longer have episodes of depression? Does it mean that I will never have another suicidal thought or an urge to self-harm?
If so, then I don’t think I will ever be better, because I think the concept of “being better” is subjective.
For me, putting an end value on my mental healing is destructive. To say I am working towards “being better” is giving myself an unattainable goal. It is setting myself up for failure because the reality of my life is this: I am alive and I am happy, yet I still have days and moments in time where I am once again swallowed up by depression. By this standard, I may never be better.
My depression lingers, like a fly on the wall inside of my head. It hasn’t completely gone away, perhaps a part of it will live within me forever—and that is OK.
I used to think there would be a moment during my recovery where euphoric relief would just hit me. And all of a sudden, I would be healed. Therapy and medication would prove useful and helpful, and I would no longer need to say I was recovering. I would simply be better…
If I were to continue following this thought process then I wouldn’t be getting better right now, six years later. But the truth of the matter is that I was getting better and still am—because recovery exists on a continuum.
By allowing myself to accept that there is no end goal of being fixed, I am able to keep living. I can accept the days when I have a depressive episode and know that it does not hinder my progress.
I am able to understand that relapse may happen, but that it doesn’t make me less nor does it diminish the days, months, or years of hard work that I have already put toward healing.
There is a difference between getting better and being better.
With everything that is happening in the world right now, I feel my depression starting to resurface—it’s waking up with a vengeance as I physically isolate. Troubling feelings and panic bubbling up inside of me with nowhere to go.
And yet, I try to remember that I am still getting better. That, even after months of happiness I am allowed to feel this way. I am allowed to accept the reality of uncertainty laid out before me. More importantly, I am allowed to acknowledge that I am feeling depressed again. Because that’s what happens when you are getting better, you give yourself permission to acknowledge all that you are feeling without criticism—the good and the bad.