Mental Health Recovery #Write31Days

31 Days of Mental Health

Welcome to day 2 in the #Write31Days challenge on mental health. When you are diagnosed with a mental health condition, you often wonder how you’re going to get your life back. Ideally, you’d be cured of your mental health condition, but this is not always possible. When you have a severe mental illness such as schizophrenia or borderline personality disorder, this is often going to be lifelong. Therefore, the goal does not become cure, but living a meaningful life in spite of your mental illness. It is here that recovery comes into play.

The mental health recovery movement may be seen as an offshoot from the psychiatric survivor movement from the 1970s and 1980s. Back then, people who couldn’t be cured of their mental illness within a short while, were institutionalized on long-term units essentially for life. The worst part was that they lost all control over their lives. They couldn’t even decide what they were having for breakfast, let alone how they wanted to live their lives. Many were heavily medicated without their informed consent.

In the 1970s, psychiatric patients and activists started to protest the forced institutionalization of mentally ill people. My mother was one of those activists. Part of this protest was asking who is normal. People would wear mirror buttons with this text on them.

The truth is, everyone experiences mental setbacks in their lives. The recovery movement assumes that even people with severe mental illness can and should have control over their own lives. Recovery includes being an active participant in your treatment and the director of your own life.

In 2010, I participated in a recovery group at my former institution. One of the main positives of this recovery group was that it deliberately consisted of institutionalized people. This sent the message that, even as a long-term psychiatric inpatient, you can and should have control over your life. We discussed such topics as sources of support, pitfalls in our recovery and getting our lives back on track. Most people participating in the group, even those who did not originally intend on taking leaps in their treatment, were improving their lives at the end of the course.

I want to clarify here that the goal of recovery is self-direction, not necessarily self-reliance. I for one was planning on transferring to a workhome, which is essentially a permanent institution placement. I didn’t end up going there, but still five years later reside on a long-trem treatment unit. That doesn’t mean I didn’t take steps towards recovery. I took more responsibility for my own life and took steps towards being an active participant in my treatment. For example, I searched for a therapist who would treat my complex trauma once I’d transfer to the workhome. As I said, it didn’t work out, but the recovery course taught me that I could and should take my life and treatment in my own hands.

36 thoughts on “Mental Health Recovery #Write31Days

  1. I love your honesty. Mental health is one of those subjects that is slowly becoming less taboo to talk about, so thank you for helping to eliminate some of that stigma.

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  2. I really like that the goal is to find ways to live a good life inspite of your medical condition. And the more you can find ways to treat yourself, the better.

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  3. Mental Illness has come a long way since the 60’s and 70’s. It’s heartbreaking to hear how people were treated back then. I’m glad there are so many different treatment options for people today!

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  4. I love that you are taking on this challenge and will be able to shed more light on a topic that so many know so little about. Thank you for your candor and kudos to you for becoming an active participant in your treatment – that speaks volumes to what is possible.

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  5. Just the fact that you are able to write about and openly share your experiences, is amazing progress! Mental illness is always treated with such stigma, and it shouldn’t be!

    Tracy @ Ascending Butterfly

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  6. This is a wonderful topic to right about. There has been such a bad stigma over mental illness and imglad now that people can open up to talk about it now. I’ve struggled with depression most of my adult life.

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  7. I’m glad that mental health issues are coming into light these days and people are talking about it. Years ago, everyone shoved the mental health issues under the rug, to be hidden away.

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  8. My uncle is schizophrenic, and I have numerous diagnosis myself. After my grandmother passed I had to watch my uncle find his motivation to get better again and it can be quite the struggle.

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  9. I’m proud of you for sharing your story. I think there are some who would rather keep it to themselves or their families. Here’s wishing you the best of everything.

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  10. I actually suffer with depression and anxiety and I’m on medication for it. Told my story on my blog and was actually encouraged to write about it from my therapist. While I know I’m not alone it’s good to see others sharing their story as well.

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  11. I think it quite brave of you to open your life up to strangers as a way of shedding some light on such an important segment of society. Your vulnerability is both a symbol of your strength and a call to arms for everyone who has been adversely impacted by the ills of the mental health problem here in this country. Thank you for sharing.

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  12. I’m not sure there is such a thing as normal, I think we all just have different ways of dealing and coping, we all have strengths and weaknesses to work with or through. Writing is cathartic, hoping it help you and the many will find comfort in your words.

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  13. It’s true that psychiatry has greatly advanced over the past decades. It’s also true that we shouldn’t let our mental illnesses define us as person, but to live a meaningful life much as possible.

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  14. I am so glad you chose to do the challenge on mental health! What a great way to bring attention to an issue we all need to talk about!

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