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I know that a relapse is hard, no matter the circumstances. I know that no one wants to take steps backward or feel the way they felt in their darkest times. But when you add the stress of relapse onto being a mental health person and drug addict who constantly talks about how great recovery is, it becomes really, really hard.

It’s no secret that I like to share how far I’ve come in my battle with mental health and addiction, I am probably a little too open about it. But I still have bipolar disorder and I’m still labeled as an addict. I still have a significant mental illness that will always have recurrent episodes. And sometimes being such an ambivert makes that extremely hard to admit.

This means that when I struggle, my go-to coping skill is pretending I’m not. For those familiar with DBT practices, I’m well-known for abusing “opposite to emotion” by not validating, or even acknowledging, when I’m symptomatic. Because it’s hard. I know I’m a light to those around me who also struggle. I give lectures every day about how I’ve overcome the darkest parts of myself and found brightness in the world – and I mean what I say.

And I’m like that even in psych wards. In my near-yearly tune ups, I find myself going in, preaching about my insight and recovery tips with other people, while knowing I don’t want to be alive. Even so, I can’t stop myself from wanting to spread the word about how mental illnesses and addiction recovery can get better – people can be functional after a psych ward. Life will not always be dreary.

Except, since I’m bipolar, some days will be dreary. Some days will always, always be dreary – it simply comes with the territory of having a severe mental illness. But it’s still really hard to admit that without feeling like I’m losing my identity as a mental health and recovered addict. Rationally, I know my diagnosis will always be symptomatic at one point or another, but socially, I can’t bring myself to speak up about that

But some days, it’s hard. Because I still see the world as a beautiful place, but it’s also a place I don’t want to live in anymore. Except, when that happens, due to being this beacon of light, I don’t know how to communicate that with those around me. I struggle with reaching out to my support system, because I’m supposed to be the happy one now. I’m supposed to be the recovered one.

In my mind, it feels like if I admit I’m struggling, I’m invalidating every sunny text I send out about how mental health and being sober/clean can improve when someone puts in the self-work. It feels like I’m suddenly a fraud. And in those times, I really worry other people will see me as less credible when I speak out about recovery again. So, because of all that, when I do struggle, it feels like I lose my whole identity in the process.

Because nowadays, I don’t post about how depressing life is. I post about how far I’ve come. I don’t dwell on hard times with friends. I talk about how those hard times will soon be replaced with better days. I don’t focus on negativity, because my brain is no longer wired to be negative all the time.

But what about when life is depressing? What about when I don’t know if I can wait to see better days? What about when I’m lying on my bedroom floor in the middle of a panic attack, because I feel physically unable to do anything but sob? How do I admit I have times like that when I view myself as this guiding hope and inspiration to those around me?

I don’t. I don’t know how to admit it, so I don’t. It’s something I struggle with every time I hit a low point. Because I’m not the sick girl anymore… but then again, I’ll never be the fully recovered girl either. So, what do I do with that?

Honestly, I’m still not really sure. Maybe I’ll figure out a good balance one day, but for now, I’m simply unsure. I just know it’s something I need to work on, and that’s all I can do.

So, if you know the secret – if you know how to be able to admit that you’re having a hard time – please, let me know. That’s a lesson I haven’t quite grasped yet, but I really do want to learn. I just don’t know how.

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A Girl And Her Insecurities.

Every morning, you probably stare in the mirror longer than you should, worried something about your makeup isn’t right, worried a hair is out of place, worried you’re going to make a fool of yourself if you step out of the house looking like you do.

You probably do the same thing with social media. Before you post a picture, you probably examine every inch of your body, on the search for flaws. But no one else is going to sit there and stare at your photo for as long as you have (unless they like you and are thinking about how adorable you look).

Either way, no one else is judging you as much as you’re judging yourself. No one is thinking the same harsh things you think about yourself. The rest of the world sees you differently than you see yourself. You’re not wearing the same set of lenses.

Even though you might feel like the rest of the world is looking down on you, your insecurities are the loudest in your own mind. The worst possible thing anyone could say about you has already been said by the voice in the back of your head. In a way, that’s a good thing, because it means no one else is judging you as harshly as you think they are.

Even though it’s much harder to be kind to the person in the mirror than it is to be kind to others, you want to start learning how to treat yourself with love and compassion, with admiration and respect. You want to start treating yourself the way you treat your loved ones.

No, you’re not perfect — but no one is perfect. Everyone, even the person you consider the most beautiful woman in the world, has things they’re insecure about. You’re perfectly normal for feeling self-conscious. You’re allowed to be uncomfortable with certain aspects of yourself. But you shouldn’t let that discomfort turn into self-hatred. You shouldn’t punish yourself for being yourself.

You’re more beautiful than you believe, on the inside and the outside. It might take you a while to see that, but you’re going to get there as long as you put in the effort.

Stop assuming everyone is judging you. Stop assuming everyone is thinking the absolute worst about you. Even more importantly, stop thinking the worst about yourself. Stop treating yourself like a punching bag. Stop acting like you have nothing to offer this world. Stop doubting yourself. Stop selling yourself short. Stop practicing self-hatred when you should be practicing self-love.

Your insecurities aren’t as noticeable as you think. Even if someone else sees the same ‘flaw’ you see, they aren’t going to dwell on it. It’s not going to make a difference in their life. They aren’t going to give a shit.

However, in some ways, it’s also a horrible thing. You don’t want to play the role of your own worst enemy. You don’t want to hate yourself over a few tiny flaws when there are a million different things to love about yourself.

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It’s amazing how small someone else can make you feel. One day, you’re on top of the world, and the next, you are lower than rock bottom. There are some days when you can’t even tell yourself apart from the rock, and you wonder how it ever could have gotten so bad. You wonder what you have been doing wrong to constantly be pushed away by everyone you think you might actually have a chance with. You wonder when exactly you became so unlovable.

You are not unlovable. But you are not invincible either. You are human. And the beautiful part about being human is our ability to make so many mistakes and then learn how to grow from them.

So maybe you took a chance on them, and ultimately, it didn’t work out. Maybe it not only didn’t work out, it crashed and burned and turned your entire world upside down. No matter how deep the hurt or intense the wound, you can always come back from it. You still are not unlovable. You could crash and burn and be wrong one million times and then one million more and that still wouldn’t make you unlovable. You just haven’t met your person yet.

Maybe your path has a few more twists than your best friend’s, and that is okay. Maybe you have taken a little longer to find your soulmate, but that does not mean they aren’t out there. Because if they are truly your soulmate, then they are also out there feeling this way too. Your life is not a checklist waiting for you to complete it before you can find true happiness. All you ever needed to be happy was you. Maybe you are your missing piece. Maybe right now you are the only love you need in your life.

I know it hurts to spend another Friday night alone. I know you are sitting there, waiting for a call or a text that might never come through. I know you’re just wishing that life would get better. And I know that you think it would be if only you weren’t so alone. But let me tell you something.

We live in a world where we are constantly barraged with imagery of how perfectly everyone else’s lives are going. It can become so easy to become lost in a world that isn’t even real. Life isn’t a competition, and finding love isn’t either. Some people meet their soulmates early on in their lives because that is what the universe has deemed necessary for them in that exact moment. Others may take years or decades or however long it takes to find this love, but this doesn’t make them any less than their peers. We are all on our own path in this life, and we each reach our major milestones differently. Just because you didn’t fall in love at 15 or get married by the time you’re 30 or have kids before you’re 40 doesn’t mean you are failing. You just haven’t gotten to that milestone in your life yet.

You can be madly in love and still feel alone on a Friday night. You can be in a committed relationship and still anxiously wait by your phone for words you may never actually get to hear. Being in love won’t flip a switch in your life and make everything better. You won’t wake up to all of your problems solved, and you won’t be the person you always wanted to be just because you have someone beside you in your bed at night. Someone else’s love is not the cure to a life you aren’t happy with. Your own love is.

Next time you are feeling unlovable, remember this. Within you, you have always had all of the love you ever needed, you just have to convince yourself that you deserve it. If someone else is so deserving of your love, aren’t you?

Take the time to love yourself, and trust that the love you have been after will find you when it is meant to.

Please don’t give up on love.