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I Am Capable: My Mental Health Journey

The last time I sat down and wrote, I talked about my mental health progress. That was February and now it’s May. I’ve had a handful more therapy sessions since writing that one and I wanted to drop in and share something that I’ve discovered since.

Before reaching out for mental health help, I felt extremely alone in my thoughts. I struggle with intrusive thoughts that in turn, force me to act in reversive ways by performing some task a certain number of times — knocking on wood four times, for example. I thought that I was the only one who was experiencing what I was. Perhaps the worst part is that I had taken my struggles and deemed them as parts of my everyday life. I wondered if I would ever find relief, if I would ever see a day that wasn’t a battle in my mind. 

I began my mental health journey with a specific goal in mind. I wanted my therapist to give me tips and tools to combat the thoughts that made every day much more difficult than they should have been. I desperately wanted someone to tell me, “This is what you do. This is how you get better.” That was the only way that I saw myself ever making any progress. I lacked serious trust in my own abilities to fight this.

In one session, I concocted a plan with my therapist that would essentially test my abilities to combat the thoughts that often prevent me from performing everyday tasks. Particularly, locking the door at night was something I had to do multiple times before feeling content. To me, this plan was sort of like a homework assignment with an end-goal. If I was able to overcome this, I thought, I’d have something to show that I made progress. Finally, I had an objective that I could work to complete. I told her that giving me that task was the most beneficial thing she could have done for me. But what she had to remind me was that I was the one who thought of the exact tips I was thanking her for. I was responsible for helping myself that time.

I never knew that I had the tools in my own box to improve my mental health. I definitely need therapy and I benefit immensely from receiving professional guidance. But realizing that I am capable of battling my struggles has changed the way I view this entire journey. I no longer feel as helpless when facing these things. If you’re reading this and you’re like me, unsure of yourself and your abilities to combat your toughest mental health hurdles, know that you are fully capable.

A few months ago, I could not have pictured myself making significant mental health progress. Today,  I’m seeing myself move forward in ways that I didn’t know were possible. It is, to say the least, overwhelming. When you spend years believing that you were just destined to struggle, relief from that pain feels like a weight lifted off your back. There is hope. I’m learning that I don’t have to struggle, and you don’t either.