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How Recovering From Mental Illness Can Make You Sicker

When starting out on your recovery journey, you may actually become more unwell than you were before.

This might seem like a dangerous thing to say, but it’s true.

In some cases, things can get worse before they get better.

Delving into past trauma and difficult emotions can exacerbate your symptoms.

If, like me, you spent years burying things in a box at the back of your mind, taking the lid off that box can be frightening and hard to cope with.

For me, this period of discussing and reliving things I’d worked so hard to keep secret prompted an increase in impulsive and self-harming behaviour, suicide attempts, and generally made life very challenging – perhaps more so than when I was trying to avoid it.

But it’s important to know that this is not forever.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and don’t worry, it’s not a train.

It’s you getting your life back.

"Difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations" How Recovering From Mental Illness Can Make You Sicker (

I think it’s disingenuous to suggest that as soon as you ask for or accept help, everything is going to just instantly get better. I mean, maybe it will, but there’s a good chance you’ve got a battle ahead.

But you can do this.

If I could go back and do it again, I would accept the support I was offered from those around me at the time. Even knowing all the pain I experienced when I finally opened up, I would do it all over again, knowing that it would get me to where I am now.

And the worst part is
Before it gets any better
We’re headed for a cliff
And in the free fall I will realize
I’m better off when I hit the bottom.

– “Turn It Off” (Paramore)

Opening up was painful.

I had to fight, hard.

I had to lean on my support system and let them into my carefully-guarded world.

I had to let myself feel the true extent of the pain I’d surpressed, and let it run its course.

I had to get sicker to get better.

Today, I am so proud of myself for how far I’ve come, and for fighting through the pain to reach the other side.

The pain hasn’t completely disappeared – it rears its ugly head from time to time. But it no longer confines me to the subsistence I spent years enduring.

“I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it.” (Mae West) How Recovering From Mental Illness Can Make You Sicker (

If you’re ready to ask for help, please take a look at my Support page for a huge list of organisations and resources that can help you on your journey.

Do you have a recovery story to tell? Maybe you have some advice you’d like to share based on your own experiences? Drop your thoughts in the comments below.


How Recovering From Mental Illness Can Make You Sicker (


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