“I wanted to see what would happen if I didn’t give up” - littlestlady.com

Recovery & What it means to me.

Hello Poppets!

How the dickens are we?

Another day, another dollar or should I say ANOTHER BLOG POST.

Look at us go!

I often think about how my blog post topics have changed over the years, from being in the thick of my recovery and raising awareness to what abuse and trauma even is, to now leading forward with the topic of recovery (and banging on about it nearly every day,oops!)

Its wild to think of the journey I’ve had to get to where I am today and even more importantly what a different person I am to back then. When I first started this big journey I had so much sadness and hate held within my heart. I was so angry at the things I had been through and had no idea how to move through those feelings or handle what I was going through.

The blog posts back then matched similar tones as I tried to work out why people couldn’t have just been better and behaved differently despite the things they’d been through. (No, but seriously. I would still like to know that!)

From then, I moved on to figuring out a little why some don’t choose growth and healing, all whilst choosing it myself and teaching others to do the same. Over the years I have shared all sorts on the topic of recovery from the powers of facing our fears to healing and forgiveness.

What even is recovery?!

Despite banging on about recovery day after day, I dont think ive ever stopped to explain what recovery even is and what it means to me. In fact, one of the most commonly asked questions I get is “What even is recovery?!” In fact, I’m asked it that much that I have created this blog post rather than trying to answer such a complex question with such a select word limit on instagram or twitter. So, if you’re here reading this, you’ve probably been sent it after asking the oh so important question of, what the dickens is recovery?!

So, what is it? Well, to me, recovery is moving forward from our initial starting point. It’s about creating change and building better.

I actually first learnt about recovery when going to my last therapists. I walked in those doors as a very frightened and confused individual. I had a list of disorders as long as my arm with no way of knowing who I was or what I was. I had that many labels on me that I felt like some disordered being who was destined for, well, not much at all.

At that point I was not only told that I had been misdiagnosed, but my therapist quite literally removed all my disorders and repronounced me as, Jessica.

Hello, nice to meet you.

She explained that the way I acted, thought and behaved wasn’t disordered. It wasn’t strange and it wasn’t wrong. It was a very normal response to the environment I had grown up in. I wasn’t going to have good mental health, a positive outlook and productive ways of thinking when I had come from where I had. It’s just like with physical fitness. You wouldn’t walk in to the gym on your first day and expect to be able to lift the heaviest weights. Not being able to also wouldn’t mean you had a weight lifting disorder. It would mean you’d had no practice at lifting heavy weights and weren’t quite strong enough. My brain may not have started out strong and healthy, but I could certainly build it to be.

Instead of looking at the titles of my disorders I had to break down and build upon the things and symptoms within those categories. Instead of CPTSD, OCD or GAD, what was really going on in that brain of mine, what were the symptoms and what was I actually doing? For example, I had an impending fear that at some point something BAD was going to happen. I had to look at where the dickens I had got that from, look at why I believed it to be true, learn that not everything was my responsibility and then find new ways at looking at things.

Now, just saying it like that makes it sound easy and I dont want you to think that at all. These things took a long time to even sit right in my brain and then I had to not only repeat them, but remind myself of them when my brain tried to tell me otherwise.

Once I started working through my trauma, building skills and finding healthier ways to look at things the problems that I was having started decreasing in sizes until the point of non existence.

Lots of people also ask me what the term management means and will question that as they find it in a lot of my early content. (and I mean early) That’s because management at the time to me simply meant remembering the things that I had been taught. Especially when It comes to something like OCD, it will fight and I mean FIGHT to be seen. Though I had left therapy with no symptoms that id had previously, my therapist explained that difficult situations could trigger that OCD response as it had been a BIG response and coping mechanism for so much of my life. At the time, that was more normal than my new found way of thinking. Management simply meant, if life got stressful or I had another traumatic experience and my head went ‘check the door’ I would need to remember that its just that sneaky old way of thinking, that thoughts are simply just thoughts and responding and reacting to that thought would only lead to that cycle starting again.

and that’s very important!

When I first left therapy, those thoughts did show their face, but I would simply remind my brain that it was okay, we were safe now and didn’t have to take on the responsibility and weight of the world. The less I stopped responding to those thoughts, the less they showed and that is something incredibly important as the more we respond to thoughts, the more our brain is going to throw them up. I left therapy in around November of 2014 and by the time I left the UK and moved to New Zealand in March 2015 I had no more of those intrusive thoughts. Im not sure if that was helped along from not responding to those thoughts, or if I was just too busy packing and jumping ship that there was no more room for them in my brain!

Those traumatic events that my therapist warned me about actually did show up in the form of loosing my grandma (who pretty much brought me up!) my main abuser passing away and having to go back to my childhood home to clear the house and you know what? not an intrusive thought in sight (or mind). I feel I handled those things well due to spending so much time building better mental health, strengthening my brain and thought processes and learning the power of facing fears.

Now at nearly 7 years later the thoughts I think and how my brain reacts today are much more normal to me than how I lived before. I can’t even fathom how I used to think and when I remember some of the things my brain used to tell me it makes me chuckle. I am so far removed from that life and how I used to view the world and have a very different brain to the one I used to.

(P.s This is a great book on recovery and mental fitness by Dr. Paul Wood )

Good ol’ Mark Freeman shared a video some time back talking through the dangers and further damage we can cause when being so fixated on an end goal. You can watch a clip of that here here He talks through how obsessing, hating, and wanting to control certain things is often what got us into difficulties in the first place and how true that is.

Lets again look at this from the perspective of building mental fitness like we would physical. I very much have some loose goals when it comes to my physical fitness, however if I was to go about those goals having a fixed image in my head of what I wanted to look like, spent my days excessively trying to control and manage the things I eat and the physical activity I did, spent time punishing myself when I didn’t meet those goals, I may find myself with a few more problems than what I started with!

Instead its much more helpful to look at it as building better mental health. Moving on from that initial starting point and building the strength of our brain. I guess thats where things like neuroplasticty come into it which is another fabulous topic to look into when trying to work out this recovery stuff. Our brains can be moulded and changed just like plastic and there’s much more evidence to back that up than there is to suggest we have to stay the same and struggle for the rest of our lives. However, it does take practice and time. My word, give your brain a break!

It’s important to note as well that trauma, though having a HUGE impact on mental health, isn’t the only cause for it’s illness. I mean, i’m not being rude, but look at the world we live in. There are so many ways our brains can pick up unhealthy habits from bullying, our parents own trauma, the news thats rammed down our ear holes and the media that tells us how to live our lives and that if we don’t live them that way we have quite simply, failed. It only takes one incident for your brain to throw something up. Take the pandemic for example. We’re told to wash our hands as much as possible, mix that with underlying anxiety of what a pandemic even is and before you know it your brains going… Have you washed your hands? Are you sure? Maybe you should do it again? I don’t think you’ve done it properly. Go on, do it again!

Recovery is hard, I mean we’re changing our ways of thinking the thoughts that we may have thought for the majority of our lives. It takes time and I will never lie to you and say that it’s easy, but what it is, is possible.

I don’t want to do a shameless plug here, but my new platform Recovery Revival took off quicker than I ever imagined. Im finding that there are so many people interested in recovery and the capabilities of our brains. It’s so nice to see people commenting on content about bettering our mental health, neuroplasticity and healing. Tagging friends and loved ones in what may be helpful and sharing tips to each other. I feel like so many people are now looking for answers compared to when I first started this journey and the word recovery was no where to be seen. We’ve come a long way in talking about mental health and its difficulties, but I think a lot of people are now ready to move on to the next stages and find out what they can about it. Our brains are wonderful and its so nice to see that we’re moving on from punishing and shaming them to realising what they’re capable of.

Here are some links to Recovery Revival where you can find lots of content on recovery!

Recovery Revival Instagram

Recovery Revival Facebook

Recovery Revival Twitter

– Recovery Revival

Recovery is possible and as I hit the anniversary of being 7 years free of my disorders I can confirm that now more than ever.

To finish, here are 7 things that were helpful in my recovery and may be helpful to you.

1. Thoughts are just thoughts.

2. Face your fears. They’re not as scary as your brain is telling you.

3. Having the thought, doesn’t make it true.

4. Your brain isn’t lying to you, it just knows no better. Teach it better!

6. Take your anxiety with you. Show it that everything is okay.

7. Get rid of all things that are halting or hindering your recovery. That can be anything from people or the content you consume on social media!

Choose recovery. Im not even going to say you’ll thank me later. Instead, just do it for yourself and your future.


littlestlady


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