Now that I am discharged as an outpatient and living at home with my folks while I work on my recovery, we are looking at my options for next year.
However, any time I think about recovering and the bigger picture, like future plans, I feel overwhelmed and extremely anxious. I think I'm scared of relapsing worse than previously. At every stage of my illness I have truly thought that it was rock bottom, and every time I have thought this there has always been further to fall later on.
One year ago I was living independently alone, working full-time in an Executive level job, seeing friends not often but when I could, paying bills, driving my car, flying interstate for work or for leisure, planning my round-the-world trip... Just generally keeping things roughly together.
Now my main activity for the day can be something like beading a necklace. And even this can be a challenge - to physically bring myself to outpatient therapy, to ride fluctuations in my moods, to deal with the social anxiety that comes with leaving my room.
I feel like I have lost so much ground, that I don't want to regain it and feel the loss of losing it again. Thinking about this, I have two strategies for tackling my fears.
1. Opposite Action. This is meant to be used whenever the fear of something is not useful or proportional to the threat. For example, I shouldn't be scared of feeling better, because this is a good thing that I will find enjoyable. So I am trying to chose the actions that a non-scaredy-cat would chose. Today I looked online at rental properties just to get an idea of costs and locations.
2. Achievable Goals. Breaking things down into achievable parts is useful and realistic. No one is expecting me to wake up one morning and miraculously recover from mental illness. I don't have to immediately fix my life overnight. In fact, this isn't possible. Recovery is done in bits and pieces over time.
It's ok to not be perfect and to go backwards as well as forwards. I also won't morph into a younger version of myself and be back in the middle of a previous crisis, because that isn't possible - the experience that I've gained can't be lost or taken away.
So while my future might not be Easy Street, and there will be ups and downs, I know that this is normal for everyone - even people without mental illness - and that the experiences I've already had will help me deal with things better as they come.