“Oh, that’s nothing to be proud of! People do that every day!”
And so I’d bury those feelings of pride and tell myself that my achievements were nothing. For years I have listened to that little voice so that it got to the point where I felt embarrassed that I’d actually consider the things I do to be achievements.
“Have you won an award?” that little voice would whisper “Bought a new house? Gotten engaged? No? Then shut up and sit down” It would tell me.
My achievements felt minuscule compared to what other people my age are doing with their lives but they weren’t small, in fact, they were massive.
I talked about these feelings with my counsellor who pointed out that some of the things that I am doing now felt impossible when I first came to see her and that is the word I used, impossible.
I fully believed that there were certain things that I would never be able to do again. The things that I’ve been doing recently are more than just milestones, they carry more weight than that, they’re miracles. If you told me a year ago the things I am doing now I would have laughed in your face and said “Yeah, when pigs fly!” because it seemed that miraculous to me. Yet here I am, making my own little miracles happen every day.
After this conversation with my counsellor, I decided to start documenting my mental health achievements in a journal. It didn’t take me long to fill an entire page. From smaller things like not washing my hands or sanitizing before eating, to bigger things like going somewhere that triggers PTSD memories. After ten minutes of frantically scribbling, I put down my pen and took a good hard look at all of my achievements and in that moment I let the pride that I always pushed down inside of me swell up into one big burst of sunshine.
Since that day a few weeks ago I have been trying to teach myself that it is okay to celebrate my little miracles. Instead of brushing them off as nothing, I have been telling my friends and family when I’ve managed to push past my anxiety and achieve something. I’ve been having mini solo celebrations with cake and a good book as a reward for being brave. But most importantly I have continued to document my successes and keep adding things to that list so that instead of letting my miracles float away unrecognised, I am catching hold of them like fireflies and appreciating the beauty of them in the few minutes that it takes for me to write each achievement down.
Every little miracle that I’ve made happen is now solid, documented and recognised by me for what it is. Each one is a vital step on my own personal mental health mountain, and one day when I reach the top of that mountain, I’ll be able to look back at all of those little miracles and gaze out into the distance at the steep slopes and jagged rocks that I overcame to get to this moment, I bet it will be a beautiful view.