Editor’s note: Recovery is a multifaceted process that takes time. I like how our contributor, Judy, mentioned that resilience and recovery are not just about healing, but it is about healing well. In redefining recovery for herself, she also shares how letting her ‘walls’ down was key in her recovery process. Thank you for letting us be part of your story Judy!
I initially defined “recovery” as solely the healing of the mind. But neglected the healing of the heart and soul. I wondered if I had wasted the past three years living in apathy and bitterness because I’ve neglected my heart and soul, while getting treated for my mind.
To cope with the pain, I protected myself by building a wall around my heart so no one could hurt me. Be it darts and fiery arrows, stones, or even diamonds – this wall would stop them all.
However, this impenetrable wall also prevented care and concern from passing through. This was my reality for three years.
Although the voices were gone, things were still not exactly well. But I had a goal to fight the social stigma that mental health conditions bring, and this helped me moved forward.
In 2016, I was selected to enter into a university semester exchange program in Europe. I was the only one from my university who was chosen.
My parents were concerned that I’d be alone overseas. But it didn’t matter since I hadn’t had friends in Singapore anyway.
On hindsight, this experience had an element of being at the right place, at the right time. Who would guessed that I’d return from this exchange with 10 amazing friends who would go on to make a huge impact on my life?
These friends knew about my condition and didn’t shun me. They looked out for me, conversed with me, filled my stomach with weekly dinners. I am extremely thankful to have met them.
Someone once asked me: “What have you learnt from you trip?” I mentioned the importance of friendship. Then, he rephrased: “What did you learn about yourself?” I was stumped then.
But now I realize, these were the lies I’d been feeding myself – ‘I can’t make friends’, ‘There is no common topic between me and the rest’, ‘I am weird’ ‘I am not smart’, ‘I can’t study or read’, ‘I am useless.’ These lies had built that wall.
The 2016 semester exchange changed my mind. And I am reminded of the anecdote of the Baby Elephant which was about being held back by old beliefs.
My quick recovery from a confused mind to a sound mind was due to my parent’s love for me, my case manager and doctor, medication, my friends and God. It was just as how the director of Pandora’s Dimension put it: “Medication, Therapy, Support (Family, Friends, Spiritual)”
The recovery of my scarred heart and soul is and will be due to the spirit of thankfulness and God’s great love for me.
I embarked on my own personal project, ‘Project Rewire’ to mindfully “rewire” my brain from negativity to positivity. I started writing letters to God. I kept a gratitude journal.
Writing was therapeutic. I spilled my feelings and thoughts on paper, and how I wanted everything to just be alright. I began recording all the miracles that I experienced: like how I lost my wallet overseas and recovered it, and more recently, how I narrowly avoided getting hit by a speeding van. The ‘miracle’ list goes on.
I made up my mind to write this story because I want you to know that there is someone out there like you. You are not alone.
Resilience is not just falling down and bouncing back up time and time again. It is about how well your wounds heal or how lingering those scars are, after you get up.
We all have our own timelines. For some of us the process of recovery is short, while others take longer. Yet, we will recover – mind, heart and soul!
I encourage you to keep a journal. Write a new chapter in your life. A positive chapter that our friends and family wish us to have. We are worthy of happiness. I thank each and everyone in my life that supported me and are still contributing to my life’s story.
Judy is a local university student who advocates for mental wellness and the importance of rallying community support for mental health recovery.