Discharge day...

I arrived at residential treatment nearly two months ago. I felt utterly hopeless, deeply depressed, and highly unstable. Now, after many weeks of hard work, medication changes, difficult conversations, and education, it is time for me to return home.

In a previous article entitled, "My Life In A Mental Health Residential Treatment Center," I wrote about how what I expected it to be like, was nothing like how it actually was. Every single person was and continues to be so supportive and kind. I expected a prison, and instead, I found hope.

I have learned so much in the time that I have been here, and although I wish I could stay longer, I know that it is time for me to take the step down from residential and into a partial hospital program. Am I nervous or scared? Abso-f***ing-lutely.

And, at the same time, I also know that I can lean on this new program for help in my transition back to the outside world. I know I'm not alone, I know I have support. Residential has been neither a miracle cure for my illnesses nor is has it been an "easy journey" by any stretch of the imagination.

Every single day I woke up, I was the one who had to make the choice to get out of my bed, pay attention, and actively participate in groups. I was the one who controlled my treatment and I was the one who had to take the initiative.

The staff and treatment team can give you all the directions, suggestions, and tools you'll need; but at the end of the day, the only one who can choose to apply that knowledge is yourself. Only you can control the change you want to see. In short, you'll get out what you've put in.

45 days later...

It has been six weeks since I discharged from the residential program, and to be honest, this transition has been very difficult. Every single day has brought challenging situations, intense emotions, and discouraging thoughts. And yet, despite the rickety bridge beneath my feet and the raging storm above my head, I still push on ahead.

Treatment is scary, and making the decision to start treatment is even scarier. But perhaps the scariest thing of all is putting your blind faith in a process that marches to the beat of its' own drum. Placing trust in your treatment program and care team, and walking into the fire is such an intimidating task.

As I write this, I'm reminded of a very important lesson I was taught by one of my providers while in treatment. She told me, "vulnerability creates the opportunity for growth." Each day I go to my partial hospital program, I remind myself to be open and vulnerable and take a step outside my comfort zone. Progress isn't made while inside your bubble, it's made when you face that which is uncomfortable and scary.

The healing process has been slow, grueling, and often feels impossible; It's easy for me to dismiss how much I've gained since starting treatment. Remembering to celebrate each and every victory, no matter how small, is paramount to keeping myself on track.

I've had slip-ups, I've experienced regressions, and I've continued to struggle with the sickness inside my mind. And still, regardless of all the darkness that stood and continues to stand In my way, I remain defiant as I fight to live in its' ominous presence. Make no mistake, I will fight to the bitter end, whatever it takes.

Whatever it takes.