Recovery Stalling Out: Why I’m Afraid to Get Better

I am hoping I’m getting ready to process an epiphany of some kind.  I am so fucking frustrated right now with life and processes and change and with being terrified of realizing any success.

I have had mental health issues the majority of my life.  I  have spent some of it unmedicated and miserable, and a lot of it medicated and miserable.  It has only been in the last several months that I have achieved some semblance of stability.  My life is very slowly coming together.  I haven’t had a serious suicidal thought in months, haven’t been manic in over a year, and haven’t had a depressive episode lasting longer than a month in quite some time.  That’s progress, right?

Every reasonable part of my brain screams, “Yes, dumbass!  That’s progress.  REAL progress!”  Every other part of it tells me I’m still a failure and, in all honesty, that’s how I feel.  It all comes back down to that stupid fucking worksheet that my therapist gave me about the “stages of recovery” at which time she told me that I was the stage below what I would have put myself at.  My therapist thinks that I am just now accepting my diagnosis and starting to think about making changes.

I feel like I am making fucking changes already, but then if I sit really still and quiet, it’s clear in my brain that I’m not and putting myself out as such makes me a fraud. The stumbling block is the fucking changes.  There are various things about myself and my environment that I want to change, but I can’t seem to get it done.

I have set a goal to shower every other day.  And I can’t make myself do it.  Just can’t.  It’s like I have this mental block about it.  The thought of getting in the shower terrifies me, even though I know I’ll feel better when I’m done.  Taking a shower is a long process during which I often have to sit and psych myself up about for hours.  Hours, people.  Fuck.

I have a personal goal to get my house cleaned and keep it that way.  I do a pretty good job of keeping up with my kitchen, but the rest of my house looks like a dust storm full of dog hair blew through it.  Every surface is dirty.  There is some clutter, but not terrible.  I look around and I just see all this random shit and I am so overwhelmed, I can’t even take a breath.

My anxiety about making even the most minute change in my life is totally unreal.  It takes my breath and sets a grand piano on my chest.  It renders me immobile, literally.  My heart is starting to race and my breathing is becoming rapid just thinking about all of these FUCKING CHANGES I need to make.

Because the real question is, when/if I do make these changes, what then?  Will me not keeping up with it be a sign that I am slipping, or is it human to revert back to old behaviors?  What will happen when/if I am able to take a shower every other day?  What will happen when/if I can get my house clean and maintain it?  Terrifying shit.  It probably sounds trivial to most people, and I can imagine people reading this and thinking, “Just get in the fucking shower already!” but it really isn’t that easy.

I am afraid to get better because I am afraid of change and of who I will become if I make these changes.  Will people expect more of me?  Will I be able to live up to new expectations?  Will even more progress be requested of me?  At what point do we wrap things up and say, “Rose is okay now, just the way she is.”  I don’t see a point like that in the future.

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6 thoughts on “Recovery Stalling Out: Why I’m Afraid to Get Better

  1. Focus on the happiness and freedom getting better will bring you. Don’t focus so heavily on what will be expected of you etc but even then, what you see as being too much right now, will not seem as much when you’ve got better because you’re closer to it, if that makes sense. You’ll be more ready and in a better place and therefore ready to take on bigger things. You have to break it down, don’t let big tasks and the future scare you and psyche you out, take it one day at a time. You can do it, just believe 🙂

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    • Thank you for your vote of confidence! You’re right about breaking it down and not looking at the huge and seemingly insurmountable tasks ahead. I really DO psyche myself out, a lot of the time. I appreciate your kind words!

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  2. Yeah, progress, but sometimes it’s so slow it feels like standing still. Feel your pain. Thanks for the great post. Peace, John

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  3. I’ve been there…I still am. I’ve been balanced for a couple of years now and it’s still uneasy as my world gets bigger. But, the benefits far out way the negatives. Myself and many others have gone through the no shower thing. I’m not sure why, but it’s normal.

    Remember, at this point you’re starting with a clean slate. You can start over and seek the life you want. Many do not have such a privilege.

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    • Isn’t that the scariest thing about, it, too, that the world gets bigger?!? It has been for me and I am so glad to have that validated! Thank you for giving me that image of the clean slate. I really do appreciate it.

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