What do you do when you have the urge to use a symptom? When suddenly, you feel like you must cut or you will die? When purging seems like the only option? When isolating for a week sounds like the only thing that will keep you safe?
You have to run. Run to a coping skill. Run to a loved one. Run to your recovery.
Running is not easy or fun. Recovery is not a sprint but a marathon. You must train every day. Sometimes, obstacles get in your path. They might even trip you. Nonetheless, you need to stand up, brush off the dirt, and continue running.
Similarly, the urge to use symptoms happens during recovery. Sometimes you can dodge these urges. Other times, they cause you to stumble for a moment. In a similar manner, you need to stand up and keep going. Does a runner give up because of falling? No. Nor should you in the training process of recovery.
Injuries happen at times during training too. Maybe you sprain an ankle or pull a muscle. This takes more time to heal. You might even feel like giving up on your marathon. However, a dedicated runner will perhaps give up one race but prepare for the next one. The original goal is the same although the timeline has changed a bit.
Relapses or injuries happen in recovery too. You might wind up in the hospital, using new symptoms, put into more intensive therapy, pushing loved ones away, etc. Yet, this should not deter you from the original goal of wellness. Instead, use this time to overcome your “injury” and learn new skills. Then start training for that marathon more prepared for that type of relapse.
Eventually, a runner finishes his or her marathon after training. Eventually, recovery becomes easier as you move into a healthy, symptom-free life. But, there is always a new race for runners to prepare for, if they so choose. Likewise, many people with mental illness have another disorder or symptom to face. Continuously lacing up one’s shoes to race can be difficult. But it can also be rewarding.
In the ending, this training has made me a stronger person. Today, I ran from several symptoms by using coping skills like distracting with a movie and going for a walk. Now, I am several steps closer to being ready for my marathon, my healthy life.