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  • Writer's pictureAlex Rathbun

Healing isn't linear

healing isn't linear: how I find hope on the hard days

Welcome to this week's Brightly Alex Mental Health Monday.

My past week has been great. Between quality time with my husband, coffee dates with new friends, and creating art that I'm proud of, life has felt overall pretty good, with little anxiety. I start to think "Okay, maybe this is it! My anxiety is finally gone!". I even posted on instagram about how great I've been doing.

And then this morning... wah wah. I wake up with a wave of that familiar feeling: tightness in my head, a clenched stomach, short breathing, feeling overwhelmed by life and unable to think clearly. And I feel crushed. I thought I was done with this. Go away, anxiety.

This cycle is not new for me. I have repeatedly had a long streak of feeling like myself, only to then become completely defeated by one bad day. During that bad day, my thoughts typically go to the worst possibilities: "The anxiety is back to stay, I'm never going to get through this. This will be part of my life for forever. Nothing is helping. Nothing will ever help me."

To be honest, I wish I was writing this from a place of "but don't worry, I'm feeling much better now!" but that's just not where I'm at. It feels important to share my story on these hard mornings, when I'm feeling less hopeful, when I'm not feeling like Brightly Alex but instead Sad and Scared Alex.

But luckily I have reminders around me of truth. Last week when I was feeling good, I made this piece of art as a reminder for myself on the day I knew would likely come, where I'd have feel anxious again. The truth that this piece represents is that healing is not linear. Which is why I can grasp onto some of last week's hope that today will get better. Most likely, tomorrow will be even better than today. Today's struggles are not forever.

Emotional and mental healing is not a straight line. I am guilty of being frustrated with others around me, thinking "shouldn't they get over that by now? They must be overdramatic because there's no way that they could be still be feeling this way." But the truth that I'm learning is: someone could have a great day, week, month, or even year, then a trigger will hit them and bring them temporarily backwards. I am not going to attempt to explain this further because I'm not a therapist, but I am sharing from the experience of those around me and myself.

If you're struggling and today is a bad day, know that you will move forward from here. If you're having a good day, maybe make some kind of reminder for yourself of encouraging truth for when a bad day strikes. If neither of these describe you, focus on having grace for those around you. Healing takes a lot of patience and love.

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