Too often, we think of health–whether mental, physical or emotional–as a static state. Once we lose weight, attain sobriety, return from the throes of depression, anxiety, addiction or some other illness to a manageable state, we believe we won’t have to worry anymore or continue to manage our health.
We believe our problem will remain “fixed.” But if you ask anyone who has wrestled with mental health, sobriety, physical health issues or other addictions, you will hear a very different story. It is a daily challenge to manage and maintain that healthy status.
In my professional experience over the last 24 years, I have seen heartbreaking journeys with clients struggling to regain footing after bouts of depression, struggling to achieve calm after wrestling with sexual addiction and losing weight that had been gained and lost so many times before.
I have also witnessed the pride of those who have figured out the balance and dance of living a healthy life. Like most people, I have also struggled with certain health issues. They know that I have my own history of depression that I manage through nutrition, exercise and a strong support system. I also lost a significant amount of weight. I keep pictures of myself 70 pounds ago in my desk to remind myself of past struggles with compulsive overeating. I show these gladly. I also seriously injured my brain several years ago after falling off a horse.
I view each episode of depression, each weight setback, each time I had to relearn something I already knew as opportunity, NOT failure. Giving up because I ate what I shouldn’t or couldn’t do what I could before the brain injury or because I had to consult with my doctor about my medications and push my resistant body to exercise was not helpful to my healing.
I had to accept the fact that there were going to be setbacks, challenges, and most importantly, triumphs. I had to give up the idea of being in charge or being perfect, allowing me to be hopeful and fluid with my health. A trip is as much about the preparation, the stops, the scenery and the setbacks as it is about the final destination. Here are 10 things to remember on your journey to health:
- Stay connected to family and friends, we all need support.
- Your particular health problem does not define who you are.
- Practice right brain activities like drawing, music and meditation.
- Stay focused on what you CAN do, not on what you can’t do.
- Find ways to laugh–watch a funny movie or old TV show.
- Engage in support groups that address your particular concern.
- Consider therapy to learn new ways to cope.
- Love yourself as someone who has a health issue, not as someone who is “sick.”
- Challenge the way you define success or productivity.
- Be patient.