So this is what recovery from a mental injury looks like.
I feel lethargic. My body aches in weird places. I lay around. I get up to do little things, and then run out of steam and lay back down. I am sleepier and hungrier than usual. Healing takes extra energy.
A mentally injured person often wants to withdraw because s/he feels vulnerable, unpresentable and inadequate. But if you can forgive yourself and have interactions with gentle, caring and supportive souls, that’s better than suffering alone. Meaningful conversations and the sense that I am still contributing to someone’s life are uplifting, at least in small doses. Writing is a good low-barrier activity for me, so here I am.
Different feelings come up, seemingly at random. Sometimes they have something to say. I listen. It’s a bit like listening to a little child. He thinks he knows why, and I acknowledge without believing everything at face value. Other times I have no idea where the feelings come from. Either way I don’t judge or fight them. The problem comes if I go “I shouldn’t feel this way.” If I give in and just feel it, the feelings lessen their sting.
By “feeling” what I mean is just pay attention to the sensations of the feelings. It’s tempting to distract myself by watching, reading or listening to something, but I hold off on that as long as I can. Distractions and breaks are useful and necessary, but don’t distract yourself all the time. That slows down the recovery. Feel it for a little while, and when you can’t bear it any more, then take a break with distractions.
I was bummed because I wanted to spend this week off recording new songs. I haven’t been able to do much of that. So that part of me was fighting, wanting to soldier on. But what if I saw someone else with a mental injury? I’d tell her/him to surrender and let go. Toughing it out may get you productive in the short-term, but is counter-productive to recovery. The upside also is that I had the week off, I didn’t have to psyche myself up to perform at my job. In the long run this is making me a better person. I am still hurting, but I am not unhappy.
Mental injury can occur from anything. A breakup. A job loss. Conflicts. Stress. Worry. Some are dramatic, others accumulate over time. Knowing how to recover is useful. What helps you when you need to recover?