In less than a week I will begin my partial hospitalization program to try to gain control of my depression, anxiety, Bipolar II disorder and self-harm. The initial process gives me anxiety—from the first phone call to walking through the door for the intake appointment. Questions flood my mind: What do I say? What if I am late? What if I stumble over my words? They are definitely going to hate me. They will 100% think I am weird and crazy. I will get lost on the way and then try to explain the story to the receptionist and she won’t laugh and it will be awkward. I don’t do well with awkward. What should I wear? What the heck, Emily. What you wear doesn’t matter…
I will spare you here but rest assured this is not where the stream of panic ends. I worry about whether this is the right decision. I know I am putting my life on hold so there is that concern as well. I wonder whether I will progress as quickly as I would like and whether I will be discharged in the standard two weeks. It is daunting to walk into something completely and totally new.
I do not know much about what I am walking into, I only know it will be a lot of work. I will continue to work through the parts of my past which still linger through all areas of my life. I will take up the pain I have been sitting with, look it directly in the face and hopefully realize it is not as scary and impossible as I have been led to believe. I have a spark of excitement and a fire of fear. There is readiness and an unwillingness. I am at both ends of the spectrum simultaneously.
The excitement lies in the hopes that I may have my life again. I used to work 5 jobs and go, go, go without lasting effects. I know that kind of life is not sustainable but now I get tired from a coffee date. Life has been on hold and I have hope this may be the threshold into restoration. The depression feels like I have been standing in a dark hallway and I hope this is a doorway to the outside, a passage back to the light. I want to see light again.
Then there is a fire of fear raging in my head as well. The flames are tall and hot. I have been sick for so long, what does not being sick look like? Not being depressed is as foreign as the treatment I am about to enter. The depression has been deep and suffocating, the mood swings severe, and the panic attacks often— all for such a long time. I do not know the way to recovery, to not know where you are going is terrifying. There is a stable side of recovery, I believe there is life more than this. I just do not know how to get there. I do know there is pain before change. Change almost always requires pain and I am afraid of the pain. It already hurts so much now, withstanding more is daunting. We walk through flames before we are refined. I am afraid of those flames. There is both a flame of fear and a fear of the flames.
I will not be dismayed and rendered unmovable by fear. The fear of the flames will not consume my desire to grow. The pain of the burn cannot compare to the pain of the depression that I feel now. When I was in eating disorder recovery I heard a quote that said the hardest day in recovery is better than the worst day with the eating disorder. That same sentiment true for every mental illness. The recovery, no matter how daunting, is better than the illness.
I know this is a small step compared to what many go through to regain their mental health but it is the biggest step I have ever taken. With that comes all the emotions. I will enter that hospital with trembling hands and I will be terrified through the whole process but I can rest in knowing that this is good. This is a new season, a shedding of the old and becoming new. This is learning to regain life again and learn to deal with the pain that has been there for so long. I am ready to experience the better. I am ready to stop sitting idle in the pain and move through it. I am ready to walk through fire for myself.