Recovery is Scary

I finally addressed the elephant in the room last week.  I could no longer put down all my anxiety to having recently started voluntary work.  I realised and admitted to myself that a lot of things I have been doing of late although all signs of recovery and establishing “A life worth living” as the DBT parlance goes, have been contributing to the high levels of anxiety I am experiencing on a daily basis.

What I’ve been doing doesn’t seem much, and isn’t compared to my life before being consumed by the world of psychiatry, (and yes, I am working on the judgments and attitudes I have surrounding this) but it is definitely contributing to my anxiety.  I’m studying, working 1 day a week at the Citizens Advice Bureau, attending to relationships I had been neglecting, putting myself out there a little more and even helping lead the DBT skills group. It’s a massive step from being a full-time psychiatric patient. 

The anxiety this provokes has caused me a lot of shame to be honest.  I’m anxious because things are improving for me and that means leaving the safety of being unwell.  I hadn’t realised that I’d become safe being a patient and I feel shame because of this.  I frequently have judgments about people who I see as well enough to be getting back out there in the real world, regaining control and a life.  This isn’t because I am being mean but because I care and want them to have a better life, one of meaning – I’ve always struggled when seeing others suffer. I now have more of an understanding and perhaps compassion towards them in this regard. Developing a life worth living involves getting out of your comfort zone, having to deal with the horrendous anxiety whilst your head (and body) is telling you that it is much safer and comfortable to hide from the world and continue with your identity as someone who is ‘unwell’.

However, throughout this I have to remind myself that although the anxiety sucks, it’s actually natural and I have the skills to help me through this.  I want to be well, I want a better life and if that means putting up with the distress in the short-term (or even longer) then it is worth it.

Recovery isn’t all happiness and light, it involves discomfort and this is a truth that isn’t often discussed by those keen to see you recover.


About Carrie Quinn

I'm a former solicitor whose life was turned upside down due to problems with my mental health. I'm now aiming towards recovery, which to me means rebuilding a meaningful life - not necessarily disorder free.
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One Response to Recovery is Scary

  1. Tania davy says:

    Thankyou for yr blog, I’m at the beginning of my journey I’ve been struggling with borderline since I was 17 I was diagnosed in 2007 before this I just thought it was me and I was just screwed up. I’m waiting for dbt therapy to happen, and due to start in -April 2014″. I frequently have engaged in self harm, suicide attempts, I have OD! I don’t want to be living, but am just stuck here, unless I do something about it. I don’t get too much help from the crisis team, and at present just trying to learn dbt off the net and through workbooks purchased online. I would love you to email and keep I. Touch if you didn’t mind. My email is
    Thanks for sharing your story and all the best in staying well, your a great example.

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