Mental Illness Recovery

The “Recovery Movement” in mental health has been around for several years. I have read different opinions about recovery and I think it’s important to understand what recovery actually means.

A Recovery Definition

According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness recovery is a process that includes having an initial diagnosis, learning about your illness and the treatments available, sharing information about your illness with friends and family and finally doing something to help other people with your illness. Nowhere in this definition of recovery does it talk about resuming your life where you left off before your diagnosis.

Before I read this explanation from NAMI I really thought recovery meant I could pick back up with my life as I once knew it. But realistically I had to learn that I had to accept the fact that I now had limitations I had to consider. I have heard the argument that everyone has limitations and while I agree with this I am coming from the standpoint of when you get sick and because of whatever illness you have, your life as you once knew it has changed. It has become a “life interrupted” by mental illness.

Severe Mental Illness

I will be the first one to admit I love it when I read success stories about people with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, post traumatic stress disorder or anxiety disorder (classified as severe mental illness) who are living examples of people who have been able to get out and work full time jobs. They have either gone back to work or have changed careers. I get excited thinking about the possibilities for my own life.

Overcoming Obstacles

At the same time, I have to be honest and tell you that we have tremendous hurdles in getting to this endpoint. Our disorders may go into remission but often times we still have to continue taking medications, going to the doctor and/or therapy visits, and closely monitoring our symptoms. So the most important point is that recovery in no shape or form means “healed.”   If anything it means people who have learned how to overcome many obstacles and lead a healthy, happy and productive life. I think people who are living with mental disorders have a strong inner strength. Part of recovery is being able to recognize those key strengths and use them to our advantage.

I am glad there is a recovery movement in mental health. I like the idea that younger people can be given a sense of hope that the proper treatment can help them go on to achieve their goals. But I also think it has to be tempered by the fact that severe mental illness is really difficult to manage and if you are managing it well you are a superstar in my book!

14 thoughts on “Mental Illness Recovery

    1. Gertiesjourney,
      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I am inspired to keep writing about recovery because I believe it is so important to our overall journey. Glad you stopped by my blog.

  1. Such an admirable post.

    You got me with the words, mental illness recovery.

    Unfortunately, we do not have broken legs that can heal.

    We can only repair ourselves to the point, as you say, with a great inner power to make our lives worth living, having a job, a family, friends.

    Thanks for posting. Really like it.

    1. Hi Tina,
      I am so grateful for your positive comments about my post. I actually love writing about recovery because it is such a positive aspect on the mental health journey. Thanks for your kind words I really appreciate them.

  2. Thank you for your effort Amy!
    You are right, the term recovery sounds affirmative, positive, hopeful….
    We should pay more attention on this aspect – the positive one. 🙂

    Thanks again! 🙂

  3. You are so right! It is wonderful that younger people are able to have a sense of hope, but they need to know the struggle and hard work ahead of them. I always say that knowledge is key. Learning everything there is to know about your illness will help you. The journey with living with a mental illness is tremendously challenging and difficult, but there is hope.

    1. DarcSunshine,
      You are so right about learning “everything there is to know about your illness” this is so very important. I’m glad you commented and shared your perspective.

  4. It`s so true everything that you say. I´m a teacher from Brazil who works part time and am struggling with bipolar disorder. I´m glad I found you.

    1. Marcia,
      I’m so sorry to hear you are struggling with bipolar disorder. I can tell you it does get better. Thanks so much for your comment it means a lot knowing that my writing is helping if only just a little bit.

  5. Will I be in survival mode for the rest of my life? I have been surviving for a long time, most of my life.

  6. Thanks for sharing this post! I am still in the early stages of my recovery. I have to agree with you I too enjoy reading success stories about people with major depression. It gives me courage especially as a young adult to know that this illness will not be an everyday thing. There are a few days I feel like my recovery is going well but then I let the depression back in…is this normal? I am taking medication and seeing a therapist but I still have negative thoughts and show symptoms of my depression. I thought the medication and trying to remain positive would mask the depression. I would appreciate your feedback and comments! Thank you!

    1. Phoenix42013,
      Thanks again for your comment. I’m sorry you are struggling with depression it is a difficult illness, but with treatment, therapy, and doing all the right things you can for yourself you can recover completely. Sometimes when you are getting well the depression symptoms linger…a little like two steps forward three steps back…but as you get better the lingering symptoms subside. It’s not always possible to “talk your way out of depression” but you do have to be careful because depression has a tendency to tell you lies. Focusing on positive things will help and it shows you are moving a long in your recovery. Or course I am not a health care professional and all this really based on my research and my lived experience with depression. Hang in there…it always and I mean always gets better…

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