Writers With Mental Illness

Why Chronic Illness Recovery Is Messy (And What To Do About It)

A few weeks ago, I saw my therapist and we talked about my chronic illness recovery. To my surprise, she told me I’ve been stable since last August. That’s almost a year. And while I know I’ve made a lot of progress, it doesn’t always feel that way.

Sliding Back Into Old Habits

Just this morning, I was ten minutes late for an appointment and couldn’t understand why it had to be rescheduled. I called and called to let them know I would be late but got no answer. I rushed into the building only to meet a receptionist with her arms crossed.

No, you can’t see the doctor if you’re ten minutes late. You’ll have to reschedule.

Sometimes it seems like the world is against me. It feels like no matter how hard I try, I’m always losing my phone, my keys, my glasses. I’m sleeping through my alarm and getting to my appointments late. I’m avoiding my triggers like frightening mass media, only to stumble upon a photo from a horror movie on my Twitter timeline that scares me so bad I have to sleep with the lights on.

It usually feels like this when I’m highly stressed and anxious or depressed. Little things that don’t seem like a big deal to most people ruin my day. I become irritable, rolling my eyes and speaking rudely to people, which only makes me feel worse because I’m ashamed of this behavior. When I’m sliding back into old habits during chronic illness recovery, it’s important to remember the healthy coping skills I’ve learned so I don’t continue to slide back into old habits.


Remembering To Use Healthy Coping Skills

Just the other day, I was in an interview, and the woman across from me asked me how I deal with stress. My face lit up, and I rambled on about my favorite coping skills, including taking hot baths, doing yoga, and using the Health Storylines app to track my symptoms. From the look on her face, I could tell she was confused.

Oh, wait. Did you mean how to deal with stress… while at work?

She nodded her head at me, smiling. I switched gears and talked about prioritizing tasks and taking deep breaths. She offered me an internship, but I didn’t take it because it didn’t line up with my skill set. The position didn’t feel right for me, and I knew that in the past, I’ve agreed to things I didn’t really want to do because I was afraid of speaking up.


Recovery is messy. Everyone knows that in theory, but it’s hard not to think all my progress is going down the drain every time there’s a detour. Every time I could have been more polite to someone… like the receptionist who made me reschedule my appointment. Every time my plan changes… and I decide not to take an internship I thought would be great for me.

Life is messy. So is chronic illness recovery. We just have to accept that and embrace the journey. In the words of Heraclitus,

The only thing that is constant is change. Click To Tweet

neurodivergent writersAbout The Author:

August Blair is the blogger behind Writers With Mental Illness. She is a freelance writer and student. She is passionate about writing and psychology. She studies at The University of North Georgia. You can find her writing online and in print. Connect with her on Instagram and Goodreads.

As a way to keep this blog afloat, Writers With Mental Illness has affiliates and publishes sponsored blog posts for which compensation is received. All sponsored blog posts are clearly categorized as “sponsored.” Any affiliate links are recommended because they are products that are genuinely believed to be helpful.

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[…] Then I was silent out of an inability to put into words what I was experiencing. Now that I am in recovery, I wanted to take a look back at what life was like when I was at my worst. I can only speak for […]

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