I now believe that once a person has suffered from a mental illness, that person is always in recovery. I am convinced that all the therapist appointments and medications in the world do not insure that one will never suffer another episode of mental illness. There is no iron clad guarantee that one’s life will be free and clear of additional episodes of mental health-related problems. In fact, I believe the opposite. Once a mental health illness has touched one’s life, the possibility of future episodes related to that illness is almost certain. It truly pains me to even write this, but I believe it to be true.
After I battled my way through the first episode of anxiety and depression, I thought, okay, I have conquered the demons and now all is well. I believed I was done with that challenge and ready to move on. Cured for a lifetime. One and done! That was my thought process. But that was far from reality. Sixteen years after my first episode, I found myself struggling with a second event, and I was shocked. How could this be? I take my medication every day. I meditate each day. I understood the issues of anxiety and depression. I had learned tools for coping. But there I was, in the middle of another difficult anxiety episode. Trying to be proactive, I began to see the therapist again, because I was going to nip this in the bud. But try as I might, the bud pushed open – wham!! – anxiety attacks were ravaging my days. Shit! This just wasn’t fair.
To cut to the punch line, I learned a very important lesson the second time around. There is no such thing as one and done. I will always be in recovery. I have an anxiety disorder. The possibility of additional bouts of depression and anxiety are part of my luggage. That is my reality.