Dreaming Of Recovery

16 12 2011

Once again I rise from the ashes like the proverbial phoenix, albeit one attached to a damn bungee cord.

Whatever, it doesn’t matter. I’m back blogging having put distance between me and a time I do not wish to discuss. So I shall instead talk about recovery, or what I think recovery means.Everyone who has a mental health diagnosis is told about recovery but are never told about recovery. Sounds a bit odd when it’s said like that but what it means is that everyone gets told that recovery exists but never what shape recovery takes. So, having thought about it from time to time, and talking with people, I’ve come up with a few conclusions which I’m going to share.

Now, let me begin with this disclaimer: what follows is my own opinion of the way things should be and what I believe is the best way for people to approach the idea of ‘recovery’. This isn’t gospel but it may be interesting to you.

To begin with, we need to accept one main fact; mental health is a lifelong condition regardless of the diagnosis. I say this for two reasons. The first is that sometimes it’s something that’s physically part of you and there’s nothing you can do to take it away. As for the second, it centres around the law of change. Once something has learned to do something once, it becomes significantly easier to do it again. May sound horrible but that’s the way of things, it’s best to accept it as nothing can alter it.

What I’ve done there is to lower your expectations of what recovery is to a realistic level. This level may be familiar with ex-smokers and ex-alcoholics as they know that you’re always recovering, always wary of falling off that wagon.

So, where’s the light at the end of the tunnel? And if it’s there, is it just a train coming towards you? There is, and no it isn’t. Read on and I’ll explain.

The whole idea of recovery is to get you to a point where you can consistantly fend off issues that occur, keep issues from getting bigger, and cope with life. How? Well, medication can help you get started by settling things down (if you’re in the process of dismissing me for backing meds then hold on and let me state my position on meds further down). This can get you to a place where psychotherapy can take place and from that you can learn why things are the way they are and learn skills to help you deal with issues that will come up. As you become more confident in your coping strategies then you can begin to come off the meds and work towards being you.

Some people will now start denouncing me as being anti meds as they need them for many years to come. This is where I explain my position on this contentious issue. I’m for meds in the short term, their use solely for helping people remain stable in order to learn coping mechanisms cannot be understated. However, they are not a cure, and as time goes by the cost/benefit ratio becomes more difficult to justify (cost and benefit in this case meaning to the physical and mental health of the person). I will freely admit that there are some intense cases where meds are possibly the only way, at this time, to maintain stability for any meaningful period, but I believe these to be a tiny percentage of those who have any cause to take psychiatric medication.

As an aside, I admit to using the term ‘chemical cosh’ when referring to psychiatric meds because, truth be told, they can be deemed as such. Sounds harsh doesn’t it but then Haloperidol is used for that exact reason against non-compliant patients in hospital. Thing is, sometimes we need it, and it’s a less expensive way to stop the bad thoughts than alcohol (or other less legal substances).

The diversion over, back to recovery.

With a decent degree of the correct psychotherapy (each branch works differently depending on person and disgnosis), which should include work to help you identify trouble before it hits and coping strategies to put into place to mitigate things, you can lead a life that may be different to what you knew before yet be quite good. You can reclaim your brain and learn to work to your stengths.

There are a few things to accept about recovery. One, it cannot cure you as such, but it can make life a hell of a lot better. Two, following on from that, you will have bad days and they may seem stronger but that will only be because they have become more rare. And three, there will be times when all hell breaks lose and it feels like coping mechanisms aren’t working. As with smoking and alcoholism, everyone falls off the wagon, but what you’ve learned, along with help from friends, family, and professionals, should help you get back on the wagon much faster.

If everyone is willing to put the time and effort behind your recovery, and by everyone that means you AND the professionals, then as I said, it’s very possible to live a good life. And yes, you can even ‘unleash the mental’ from time to time, knowing you’ve got it on a leash rather than roaming free. Think that’s scary? Well, to be fair, you were doing that before things became a problem, you just didn’t understand it or have a rein on it as it were.




2 responses

16 12 2011

Very well put. I like your logic. You will not be alone on your journey as I will be following you.

16 12 2011

Good post Null. I completely concur that recovery does not equate to being cured – I don’t believe in the latter, but despite that, I do think life can be less shit than when you’re in the throes of a severe episode of illness.

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