Friday, December 20, 2013

Baby Steps - Mental Health Awareness Retreat

Baby Steps

I remember a time where I wished that my mental health issues would just disappear. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I prayed it away. I was always looking for that one thing that would quickly fix me. But I never found a quick remedy. Instead what I found was that taking baby steps was the solution towards my recovery.

I remember when I was dealing with psychosis, depression, flashbacks, nightmares, and so many other symptoms all at once. It seemed nearly impossible to even take ONE baby step towards anything. "Where do I even start or with what symptom?" was constantly my question. A question that for a bit just led me to feel even more miserable and more depressed.

I learned quickly though that ANY starting point was good and better then none at all. If I had flashbacks at a given time then that was what I was going to work on. And if it was another symptom then that became the main focus to work with and apply my coping skills. Other baby steps involved making a phone call to a therapist and actually attending the appointment or going outside for an hour early during the day to deal with my agoraphobia.

One of my biggest goals back then, believe it or not, was to get a cup of coffee and actually be able to drink it in the coffee shop without freaking out. Prior to my mental illness, I would go out into public places with countless of people and it didn't bother me at all but once I became ill, crowds became a huge trigger for me. I would go into crying binges, panic, and extreme anxiety. It would trigger my hallucinations even. In the end, I gave up going to coffee shops although I truly enjoyed them.

I made it a goal that one day I would enjoy a cup of coffee again in a coffee shop. I started by going out only early mornings around 10 am where the traffic was usually low. Hardly anyone was around. At first I would just stop by the coffee shops front door, stare through the window and wish that one day I would have the courage to go in. I did that for like a whole month. I even wonder if I ever would make it at all inside. One day, early morning on my way to my therapist office, I stopped by Mcdonalds on the way and went in. I ordered a cup of coffee. It wasn't a coffee shop per say but hey! I made it inside a place with people and for me that was huge. YES! I was sweating and nervous as anxiety was my best friend but! I did it!!!!! I went in! ordered a cup of coffee! sat down and drank it! and I can't ever explain to you the feeling of victory I felt. Today I do more then go to coffee shops. I go to lounges and restaurants and other places without breaking down; places that I once thought I never would be able to go to again. It all started with baby steps though.

I know that taking baby steps is hard but they can lead to victories.

What baby steps are you taking in your life?

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