Mental Health & The Importance of Resilience

Last night was my second counseling session. I have a peppered past with anxiety and after having a panic attack a few weeks ago, I decided to pursue greater exposure of my inner world. Exposure is the only way to heal. Whatever is hidden, ignored, or thrown under the carpet will continue to fester.

Mental health struggles, childhood hurts and insecurities, dysfunctional patterns into adulthood…they all try to hide in the shadows of our life and cloak themselves in thick blankets of shame.

“I can’t share this with anyone, what would they think of me?”

“I’m probably the only one who has ever had this thought/struggle.”

“If I talk about it, that makes it real…and it’s too scary to look at.”

“Everyone else looks fine. They’re living their lives perfectly healthy and put together, so I should be too.”

The only way to overcome these inner hurdles is to expose them, accept them and love them into wholeness. Hence, the therapist. I actually found a really cool counseling app that connects you to a certified counselor and we do our FaceTime sessions from the comfort of my own king-sized bed.

Last night we were getting to know each other better as I was divulging my family history and my own past to her. She seemed shocked at some of the things that I’ve walked through, and it was a reminder that my experience was indeed traumatic and that I’m not crazy for still dealing with some of the fallout.

She was amazed at how “normal” and healthy I was for the amount that I’ve walked through. She said, “I’ve been doing this a long time, and us therapists have a name for people like you: the resilient ones.”

I started to cry. Resilient? Me?

The more she talked, the more I realized that she was right. I always focus on my “not enough” areas, my “still under construction” areas. But have you ever taken the time to zoom out to the big picture of your whole life? Because I think you would be impressed with how resilient and badass you are.

I think you would be impressed that you’re still standing.

I think you would be impressed that you’re a functioning adult.

I think you would be impressed with all of the right decisions that you’ve made.

I think you would be impressed with your heart’s ability to be destroyed and somehow come back to life, more mature and well-rounded than before.

That’s resilience. 


RESILIENT; adjective

  1. springing back; rebounding.
  2. returning to the original form or position after being bent, compressed, or stretched.
  3. recovering readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyant.

I was reading an article about resilience on APA.org and it stated:

“Research has shown that resilience is ordinary, not extraordinary. People commonly demonstrate resilience. The road to resilience is likely to involve considerable emotional distress. Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone…

 

Think of resilience as similar to taking a raft trip down a river. On a river, you may encounter rapids, turns, slow water and shallows. As in life, the changes you experience affect you along the way. Perseverance and trust in your ability to work your way around boulders and other obstacles are important. You can gain courage and insight by successfully navigating your way through white water. Trusted companions who accompany you on the journey can be especially helpful for dealing with rapids, upstream currents and other difficult stretches of the river. You can climb out to rest alongside the river. But to get to the end of your journey, you need to get back in the raft and continue.

Resilience is deciding to continue, deciding to keep growing, deciding to be strong. It’s deciding to be an active participant in your own life and your own healing journey. It’s the ability to say, “This sucks. But I’ve made it through before, and I know I will be okay.”

Isn’t it beautiful that the more hardships and trials that you face, you’re actually being given the opportunity to grow your resilience “muscle”? You’re growing stronger, getting better, and more able to help those behind you. Your life was not meant to break you, it was meant to make you better.

I love you. You are resilient.

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