Mental health recovery can seem like an Inchoate stage in my life, even though I know that I am really well on the path to having things put together more than I ever have before.
When I am in a period of depression, as I am now, recovery always seems further away than ever. That’s not reality though. Every struggle or trial gets me closer to having a fuller, richer life with better skills and more tools. It’s just nearly impossible to hold onto that thought when I’m in the middle of the dark places.
I used to ask myself, what “recovery” in mental health really meant? Was it supposed to mean that I would be cured at the end of the process? That I wouldn’t need medication anymore? That I wouldn’t have struggles anymore?
Nope. I don’t think it means any of those things.
I think it’s a process that lasts a lifetime first of all. That doesn’t mean that I’m stuck at the same point in recovery, but I will always be recovering.
Second, recovery in mental health is kind of the same as recovery from an addiction. I would argue that addiction is a mental health issue so they are VERY similar. I’m never not going to be a person living with bipolar. I’m always going to have to alter things about my life because of it. Things I do, places I go, my schedule, how I take care of myself, etc. Taking some kind of medication for me is also likely to be in my playbook for the rest of my life.
Third, I don’t expect not to struggle, I just expect to struggle less as I go along. Hopefully, some years from now, I’ll be able to look back at this period in my life as one in which I grew and changed and became a stronger person. It’s sort of hard to see right now through the fog, but I hope to get there.
I don’t believe mental health recovery has an end point. I believe it’s a continual process of growth and change. At first, when I figured that out, I felt defeated. “What do you mean I can’t recover from this??!”
Then I realized that I had to change the paradigm in my head. Bipolar Disorder is not the flu and “recover” is very different than “in recovery.”
Older original art by me.