You have heard the corny phrase that time is the best healer? Well… it’s the truest sentence that has ever been uttered from human lips. From personal experience, it has been true with breakups, with failed tests, with the loss of a sports game and, yes, even with mental illness!
When I am asked to speak to groups or meet with individuals, I find that the most frustrated people are those who expect a fix-all solution. I remember one particular friend I had who also (like myself) experienced OCD. He was frustrated because he expected that he would learn a tactic from a therapist and, after one day of applying it, be miraculously healed. Now, I am all for miracles, but more often than not I have seen that it is the consistent effort and application of these methods and visits that deliver healing. In other words, healing takes time! A broken leg or cut arm does not heal in a day. It’s the same thing with the mind! A broken mind does not heal overnight. When I explain this, the next question I get is, “Well how long does it take to heal a broken mind?” Once again, mental issues are just like physical issues in that some are more serious than others and take more time to heal. I once knew a man who had kidney issues and had to go to the doctor on a frequent basis in order to get his blood cleaned (dialysis). If he didn’t receive frequent visits from his doctor, then his kidneys would fail and he would die. He lived a normal life. He worked. He had a family. He traveled as often as his condition would allow him. But he found a routine and was able to work with the parameters of his condition. I have also seen this to be the case with those in mental illness. They have a mental illness requiring them to see a therapist each week and take medication each day, but it helps lift the burden they feel on their shoulders. They can live a normal life with the help of professionals.
The question I get after that is, “Are you better?” The true answer? No. Most people would never know that, but it is true. I have OCD thoughts everyday, but I know how to deal with them. I know how to live with them, and I know how to sort the irrational thoughts out from the rational ones, and if the time comes that I feel the need to see a therapist for help again, I have no shame in doing so because I know it will help me live a “normal” life. However, although I experience those OCD thoughts every day, it is TIME that gives me perspective of what is irrational and what is not. After taking the time to go through therapy and medication, I have found that when I have an irrational thought I don’t immediately have to act on it. In fact, I can force it out of my head and revisit it later only to find how silly it was.
So when the irrational thoughts occur I remember that it takes time. Time to place them into perspective and time to overcome mental illness.