I'm at the bottom of the outside edge of a crater staring up. In front of me are 1,020 steep and uneven stairs to get to the top of the crater's edge. The climb is almost completely vertical (at least it feels that way). The "stairs" are wooden boards shoved underneath an old railway track of some kind. They are not up to code. Some are wonky, some don't have any ground beneath them, and some of them force you to practically climb up them with your hands. This is my hike for the day: to make it up all of those steps, (and climb a little further) to get to a supposedly amazing viewpoint.
For some reason, I didn't think it would be as challenging as it was. But then I climbed 10 stairs and realized I had my work cut out for me. I climbed it with an average of 10 stairs at a time, resting after each set on the side of the trail. My boyfriend was with me, encouraging me on, being patient with the snail pace that I could handle. As I stood on the side of the trail there were all sorts of people passing by: people running up, people running down, people stopping more frequently than me, and one elderly man with hiking poles making the whole thing look way too easy. There were so many times I didn't think I could make it to the top, where I wanted to quit, but I kept at it: 10 stairs at a time, and finally made it to the top. And it was SO worth it.
Yesterday I started my intensive outpatient psychiatric program. It's what it sounds like: intense, in-depth, and a way to work through the issues I'm constantly facing living with mental illnesses. I'll have group sessions, individual sessions with both a therapist and a doctor, and even some "expressive therapy" sessions (think art therapy). I know it's not going to cure me, but I'm hoping it will bring me some peace and acceptance of myself. I know it won't be easy, either. To me, it's as daunting as those 1,020 stairs that I climbed.
I really don't know what I'll get out of this program. I don't know if it will make me feel any better when I'm done. But, I've had so much encouragement lately, people telling me to take it "one step at a time", and that's exactly what I'll be doing. Who knows, maybe some days it will be 10 steps, maybe some days it will be none, but I've committed to keep climbing. When I hiked up those 1,020 stairs, I didn't think I could do it but, by the time I made it to the top, I was surprised by my own strength. I was able to do it. I had that strength in me the whole time.
So, that's what I need to focus on as I embark on this journey to get better: I need to believe in my own strength. I need to listen to all of the people who have given me encouraging words that, yes, I am strong; I am brave; I can do this one step at a time. And, when I'm done, it will be SO worth it.