Road to Recovery: What It Means to Me

Some of you may know that I have a history of depression. And an ongoing relationship with anxiety (more here). Being in recovery means I’m learning to live with my past and balancing my relationship with the future. Sometimes I’m almost able to forget. I feel normal. Other times it’s an all too present presence in my life.

What is Recovery?

In mental health we often talk about a recovery journey. We accept that for many of us recovery is ongoing. For some of us indefinitely. I’ve been on this journey since I was 15. I’m currently 27. It’s been a long 12 years and it’s not over yet. But I’m definitely a far cry from where I started.

I wish I could say that I’m anxiety free. That I know longer have symptoms. That it no longer bothers me. Many of you, particularly those with your own experiences of mental illness, will know that’s not always an achievable reality. Recovery is about learning to live alongside your illness with or without symptoms. Not necessarily getting rid of them.

My Recovery

On Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place blog I heard Russell Brand say:

“Recovery means recovering the person you intended to be”

This made so much sense to me. My history of anxiety and depression had made me feel so out of touch with the person I had wanted to be. For a long time I felt like I had lost myself. Even when I started to feel better I still felt so far from where I thought I would be by that time. It seemed that everyone had taken the direct route to the end goal whilst I had gone the far longer way around. Tripping over obstacles and falling by the wayside as I went. And yet no-one knew. There was very little recognition of what I had been through. Or the hard times I had faced to be exactly where they were standing.

And Now?

Photo by bin Ziegler from Pexels

Although I’d say I’m in recovery it’s still an uphill climb. One step forward is often followed by two steps back. I think we too often assume recovery means cured. And it doesn’t. Too often when people say that they’re “better” or “in recovery” that’s when we take our foot off the pedal. And sometimes it’s actually when they need us most. We need ongoing support for people in recovery.

Whilst we may have climbed out of the pit, we’re not out of the woods. It’s still appreciated when people check in to see how we’re doing. It always puts a smile on my face when someone drops me a message. Even on my good days but especially on the darker ones. A simple text shows you care. That you were thinking of us. On days when our brain may tell us no-one loves us, cares about us or causes us to overthink every social interaction. One message could help tip the balance in our favour. Many of us are finding our way in a new normal and it’s easier when we don’t have to go it alone.

What are your thoughts about recovery? Let me know in the comments below!

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13 thoughts on “Road to Recovery: What It Means to Me

  1. I think when it comes to recovery for me personally I think as a important not to see it as a big deal. But as normality. Recovery does take time, it’s all about not giving up and not losing hope. Wish you all the best with your mental health journey.

    Laura / laustworld.com

  2. I love what you said about recovering not meaning cured, I think recovery to me is getting your life back and not having it dictated by something else anymore. It doesn’t mean never feeling a certain way or having bad days, it’s about being able to cope with it and having more good than bad. Really interesting post x

    Sophie
    http://www.glowsteady.co.uk

    1. I couldn’t agree more about not having your life dictated to you. Whilst I would say I’m in recovery some people still don’t think I can make decisions for myself. Whilst people mean well I feel like because of my history I am underestimated which can be so frustrating!!!

  3. Love this post. For so many years l fought to cure myself of my mental health issues. Some l could, for example entering recovery for addiction and staying clean and sober, but others, like my fluctuating mood and anxiety, remained no matter what l tried. I felt like a failure that my.life would never amount to anything

    Then, l began to realise that recovery doesnt always mean being symptom free, recovery should actually mean, recovering the ability to live our lives, regardless and in spite of the challenges we face.

    With this change in mindset, lve at last been able to accept my challenges and work with them and around them, rather than wasting my energy trying to get rid of them completely.

    Thanks for a great read, it’s good to know others feel the same way.

  4. Hugs, girl. I know exactly what you mean by feeling better yet still so far from where you think you would’ve or should’ve been. This is also a constant struggle for me. 🙁 Thank you so much for sharing your journey with this. It’s not easy, and it’s really brave of you to share it. I hope 2020 would be a better year for all of us!

  5. Thank you for sharing such an honest post. I have lived with mental health issues off and on from the age of 17 and the journey has never been straightforward, full of twist and turns but I have now managed to live with my symptoms and I guess this has been my recovery.

  6. You sharing this is SO important for all those going through the sometimes frustrating process of recovering.
    The Russell Brand quote terms it so well, I never thought of it that way before.
    Thank you for being honest and open.

  7. That’s such a good quote from Russell Brand. I always think of recovery as like remission. So just because you feel better one day doesn’t mean that the demons have gone away, they’re just resting up. Possibly recharging, possibly taking a long break. That sounds bleaker than I intended but I hope you get what I mean. Thank you for sharing your story and I wish you continued success in your recovery too, Lisa x

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