Some days are good and some not so good. This is part of being human and not necessarily limited to those with a mental illness. However, when you do have a mental illness, the bad days can be more frequent and your response to them much more severe. On the bad days it can be easy to doubt yourself. To feel like you’re never making progress. That this illness is all you’ll ever know or be. You might even forget all the victories you’ve had on good days.
I have spent the past five years actively working on my anxiety and I have achieved much more than I ever thought would be possible, yet all of that goes out the window on my bad days. I seem to forget everything I’ve achieved and overcome. One step back feels like ten. I’m constantly looking at how far I’ve got left to go rather than how far I’ve already come, when I’ve actually come a lot further than I ever let myself believe. Writing it down for this post has actually helped me to see that.
I recommend everyone keep a list of their victories, both big and small, so that on your bad days you can look back on what you’ve done. It doesn’t matter that you’re not exactly where you want to be and it doesn’t matter if your list of achievements contains just one entry, ten entries, or even a hundred. All that matters is that you’re trying. Even by doing – or, hell, even attempting – just one thing makes a world of difference.
As today is a bad day for me, and I need a reminder that I have actually made progress, I thought I would share some of my personal victories with you, both big and small, in my mental health battle.
- Meeting new people
- Talking to people, new and familiar (including starting a conversation and keeping a conversation going)
- Making and taking phone calls
- Sending a text first instead of waiting for someone else to do it
- Replying to a text within 24 hours
- Asking a friend/acquaintance to hang out
- Going to a house party
- Using public transport
- Sitting next to a stranger on public transport
- Sitting in a non-aisle seat at the cinema
- Playing D&D
- Eating outside
- Eating in a restaurant/cafe/pub, both alone and in front of other people
- Ordering food or drink in a restaurant/cafe/pub
- Ordering more than just my ‘safe’ food
- Eating in front of people I don’t know or know well
- Trying new food (I haven’t tried as much as I would have liked because of my anxiety but I’m still trying)
- Eating and touching vegetables (I have a phobia of vegetables –lachanophobia – but I’ve managed to successfully eat carrots and onions)
- Having food touch on my plate
- Not obsessively checking my food (although I do still struggle with this one, I’ve been able to tone this down a considerable amount)
- Drinking out of a glass in a restaurant/cafe/pub
- Getting a piercing
- Changing my hair colour
- Donating blood (donated three times and hoping to go again)
- Going for a smear test (cervical screening)
- Getting a job
- Holding down a job (my longest is my current job at just over four years)
- Attending a work Christmas party
- Going back to college (and attending university in September)
- Being able to deliver not one but five presentations in college
- Attending my college leaving ceremony and accepting my certificate in front of a packed room
- Going without makeup in public
- Wearing clothes that show off skin (shorts/skirts/dresses/bikini etc.)
- Asking for help (from family/friends/colleagues/shop employees etc.)
- Putting myself out there even with the possibility of rejection
This is not an exhaustive list by any means, just the ones I can remember off the top of my head. Some may appear bizarre and not make any sense to you, like my fear of vegetables. Some may even be things that you will not necessarily have struggled with. Everything included in my list are things that, for one reason or another, were once impossible to me. Some were easier to do than others but all are astronomical achievements. I’m proud of all of my victories.
This is five years worth of progress. I’ve come a long way in a short space of time. I’m excited to see where I’ll be in another five years.