Recovery Is Time
By: Keith O'Neil
I’m sitting at a picnic table at a park not too far from the home I share with my wife and son. I can’t help but notice how in tune I am with my surroundings and myself. I’m OK living in this exact moment. I am completely content and happy with life for the first time in many years. I couldn’t care less about anything but watching my son play. I am enjoying time. As I write this I’m watching Connor play and I have a smile across my face…I’m better.
When I first heard the word “recovery” associated with mental illness I was a bit surprised, I guess. I’ve always associated the word recovery with injuries, not mental illness. In football, recovery is measured in weeks or months, not years. This time around, it’s not my knee that had to recover, it’s my mind, and it has taken me years. Even though I will live with this illness for the rest of my life, I have recovered. I have healed. Though it may not be permanent right now my recovery is real and I have found it.
Over the past five years I’ve done almost everything someone can do to recover from a major bipolar episode. I have willingly taken dozens of different medications to help stabilize my moods. I’ve spent thousands of hours in talk therapy to help understand how to live with this illness. I’ve also been very vocal about my illness to help others and myself heal. But sitting here I realize that there is one thing that has helped in my recovery the most, time. Time has helped with my recovery more than anything. Time is easy now, I don’t have to work for it anymore, it just passes, it heals. Time has healed everything about me and it has so kindly has given me my life back.
As I sit here watching Connor, I can’t help but think about how far I’ve come over the past five years, from psychotic manias to the deepest depressions. Sitting here it is hard to believe that I went through tremendously difficult times. There was a time when suicidal ideation took over my every thought and it almost got the best of me. Times I wish I could forget; yet I think about them everyday. And I know rough times are ahead because this illness is a tough one and lurks and strikes when you’re not paying attention. But it’s over right now. So I bask in this moment with a smile and the sun on my face, not a worry in the world. As I sit here I welcome this “time” because I know it heals all wounds.