Thursday, July 11, 2013

Set Backs are Learning Opportunities for Growth

During the winter, my life came to a crashing halt with everything coming to a head and being very overwhelming. It started to deteriorate months before however I struggled and attempted to continue on with life as best as what I could. It was not until March that I realized that I could not do it anymore and I was falling fast. It was hard for me to let people know how bad I was struggling because I saw by me having a set back it was me being weak and I was not truly an advocate for mental health if I was suffering. I saw admitting struggle and defeat as a negative thing and something I wanted to hide from everyone, even myself. I saw no good in letting people see my weaknesses and I was ashamed that I was in such a state of disarray.

As time went on, I had to be put into hospital because I was no longer able to care for myself and make proper choices. This was the last place I wanted to be and I fought as hard as I could to not be put in there. In the end, I knew this is where I needed to be and I admitted to the health professionals that I could not do it anymore. It was a matter of life and death.

During my stay I fought with self stigma and told people that I was not a good advocate for mental health if I was in the hospital and not able to care for myself, never mind helping other people. I was ashamed of being in the hospital and I did not let my closest friends know that I was in there until half way through my stay. I did not want people to look at me any different and see me as weak. I wanted to be strong and brave without having people to see me at my most vulnerable time. Even today, three months after being in the hospital I find it hard to admit to some I had to be in there because I want to see myself as strong and as a superwoman, being able to take care of other people. But in order to look after others, I need to look after myself- this is such a hard less for me to do. Reality is, my mental illness will be with me the rest of my life, and I may have to be put into hospital again during my life- its a fact of my life that I struggle so much that sometimes I cannot make proper decisions during a state of crisis.

The last hospitalization was an eye opener for me in that the nurses really drilled into me that it was not shameful that I went into hospital because I was struggling. But in fact it was the best place for me if I was so unwell that I was not able to cope on the outside. The first couple of weeks I was dealing with a lot of self stigma and gradually I was able to overcome a lot of that, to the point I was able to let more people know where I was at. This helped because my support system was able to help me in my journey to wellness and getting out of the hospital.

Being in the hospital or asking for help is not at all a sign of weakness. Each time I have a set back, I learn something from it and I grow in my awareness. They are opportunities for learning and growth- I did not see this until the end of my stay in hospital. Most of my stay I viewed my set backs as failures but they were not that at all- set backs are just that, set backs. It does not mean that your whole entire progress in life has been thrown away. It simply means that you have hit a bump in your life where you cannot do it anymore at that time and you need some help in getting out of the hole that you fell in. It is not at all shameful to ask for help but rather courageous to do so.

Everything in your life can be used as a learning experience and a lesson rather then looking it in a negative way. Things happen for a reason, both good and bad. They may feel like the end of the world while you are sloshing through it- but there is good that can be learned from it. It is however very hard to see it in the storms of life where you feel like you are getting hit constantly by lightening in your bum and there is a storm cloud raining over your head. Don't be ashamed that you may be struggling and need extra help in getting through something- it is strength to be able to ask for help. Asking for you may be one of the hardest things you could do. But, without getting help then it is a slippery slope when you are struggling and it could go downhill rather quickly if you are feeling in a crisis state. So, the sooner getting help the better.

I know personally I still struggle with letting people know when I am having a hard time and I still let on that all is well to most people. But, there is a few people that I can be real with and who can support me through the challenges that life throws. It is important to have a circle of support during all stages of life- not just the hard times. It is also important to have people in your life where it is a give and take relationship where you can be a friend to the people who support you as well. This is what friendship is all about- leaning on each other and building each other up.

So, in closing, I would like to reiterate that set backs are opportunities for growth. They are not bad at all, they just are. In order to know the sunny moments in your life then you need to know what it is like to have the dark moments. Then, you will appreciate and know that things will get better even though they may not feel like that at the time. Yes, it is hard to see sometimes. I will be honest that I too still struggle with this and my life is not easy by far or how I want it to be. I am still walking out my recovery and I have more down days then up right now. But there is this little piece inside of me that says "Get back up, you are not done your battle yet, keep on fighting... get up and stand tall." So, remember, get back up when you feel as if you are losing ground and that you want to lie down- push forward and keep going.


  1. You were never weak for a single moment. I see you as being an inspiration for all who read your blogs.

    Welcome back Twyla. I wish you peace,happiness and contentment from this point on.


  2. Great blog- I have been there and yes asking for help is scary but at times needed. Growth is a wonderful thing, painful at times, but wonderful. Keep up the good work and be kind to yourself
    cheers and be well

    Comox BC

  3. Thank you Suzy for your comment. I am sorry that you too have been there and experienced the challenge about asking for help. Sometimes growth really hurts and really hard to go through however this is the only time that change can occur so it is a must!

    Thanks for the encouragement both Geoff and Suzy.