Recovery; Taking the First Step

November 2, 2022

Eri Ikezawa (she/her/hers), Low Entropy Volunteer Writer


In an ideal world, an imaginary paradise, at its heart quixotic and utopian, we would lie on a bed of immaculate roses with the thorns shorn off—surrounded only by the rich floral perfume and soft petals on our skin. No misfortunes or heartaches, living in blissful and undisturbed contentment. 


Unfortunately, the real world is not like that.


Every day, people face a series of adversities, and depending on what else is going on in their lives, it can be a true test of character. When one is already burdened with their old tribulations, it’s not easy for them to react with grace and poise, especially when already being pushed to their limits.  


I think, first and most importantly, to recover from adversity one must start off by really contemplating the complicated emotions surrounding whatever is ailing them. Whether it is career dissatisfaction, relationship failures, or the passing of a loved one, I truly believe introspection is where we must start our healing process. 


Throughout my life, I have always been grateful for having an instinctual knowledge of why exactly I feel a certain way about any issue that I struggle with—or, if I began with unawareness, I would gradually begin to understand how and why I felt that way. 


In that same vein, the moments where I had felt clouded or discombobulated were the ones that I had felt most despondent about. 


Now, if I were to articulate why that is, I would say without the conscious awareness of how I am feeling, it can feel nearly impossible to form a solution to the problem. For example, after being in a car accident in 2018 where I experienced long-term physical repercussions, forcing me to work significantly less hours and preventing me from enjoying regular extracurriculars, for a long time afterwards, I felt lost, isolated and melancholic. 


But since those emotions were closer to a simmer than a boil, I never heard the bubbles nor did I feel the steam—it was a seemingly innocuous pot sitting on the stove, silent and stoic. 


So, in this specific instance of recovery (from the aforementioned car accident), I spent months feeling like there was a dark cloud hanging over my head. I began to feel old sentiments of inferiority and inadequacy resurfacing, emotions I thought I had gotten a better handle over, which led me to feeling incredibly frustrated and angry. Not only did I feel as though I had lost control over the wheel of my life, but I also just didn’t feel like myself pre-accident anymore. 


And worse yet, I spent these months watching my peers walking further and further away from me—catastrophizing to the point where I believed they were mere specks off in the vast distance, sneering smugly at me for being an unaccomplished loser. All I could think about was how they were furthering their career aspirations and participating in activities that made them happy and, in those moments, it was hard to be happy for them because I was so miserable. This in turn made me feel worse because I normally pride myself on being a present and good friend to people. I didn’t recognize this version of myself, with concealed jealousy and spitefulness, and I loathed it—and myself for feeling this way.


So, this cycle of dejection continued, much like a grotesque ferris wheel I’d involuntarily been forced onto, watching in despair each time I passed the exit stairs, destined to go for another miserable round on the nightmarish ride. 


It was only when I finally realized and recognized that I wasn’t feeling functional anymore that I was able to begin the healing process. 


I was fed up with feeling distant from my friends because I was blatantly jealous of how they were progressing in their lives and how mine had stagnated—purely due an incident that was not even of my own doing! I was sick of making unhealthy physical decisions due to what I now realize was a lapse into depression—whether it was drinking more frequently than I had in the past, or not seeking physical therapy despite my injuries, or sleeping too little or too much. 


And quite frankly, I was just tired of feeling depressed. 


It wasn’t easy to finally articulate what the lingering melancholy had been, but once I did, for the first time in a while, I saw a bashful little ray of sun sneakily edge its way past the clouds surrounding me to greet me in what felt like ages. 


The next step after recognizing what is troubling you, I believe, is to bring awareness to your support system so they can act like scaffolding while you work to reconstruct yourself back to a functional state again. 


Once I told my family and friends about how I’d been feeling, it was easier with their open acceptance and encouragement to seek treatment. I felt my spirit being rejuvenated by the overwhelming love and support I’d received, and I used that inspiration to move me into action. 


After all this, I also think it’s vital to remember that healing is neither linear nor instantaneous. Life would certainly be much easier and much more pleasant if we could easy bake our way to healing and recovery, but unfortunately, that isn’t how the cookie crumbles. 


It takes commitment and determination, actively making sound decisions that will eliminate wellsprings of unproductive distractions. It is so easy to let days lapse into weeks into months when we are feeling defeated from whatever adversity that we face, but it is infinitely more worth it to steamroll over our hardships, flattening them into slabs we use to pave our path moving forwards. 


At the end of the day, it is ultimately up to us as individuals to make the difficult choices to create a mental environment conducive for recovery. I truly subscribe to the belief that we must first acknowledge what the problem is ourselves before we can seek out other resources to assist us because if we don’t know what the problem is—or that there is a problem—then how will people know how to soundly advise us? Once we have a better understanding of ourselves, then the steps of healing and recovery—however difficult it may be—will slowly fall into place. 



My name is Eri Ikezawa and I have an extended minor in psychology and a major in linguistics. I’m still on the path to quelling questions about myself and the direction I want to head in, but in the meantime, I have always wanted to find a way to help others and contribute to a community dedicated to personal development and self-love.

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