The term recovery is a somewhat hip and at the same time common term more people are comfortable accepting and beginning to share with others while discussing their process. Recovery is a personal journey and therefore, can have different definitions for different people. However, William Anthony, Director of the Boston Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation seems to have developed the cornerstone definition of mental health recovery. Anthony (1993) identifies recovery as “a deeply personal, unique process of changing one’s attitudes, values, feelings, goals, skills and/or roles. It is a way of living a satisfying, hopeful, and contributing life even with limitations caused by the addiction/mental illness.
It could be recovery from an addition, from a mental illness, from an unhealthy way of relating to people, habits etc. Based on my experience there are some basic components for recovery to occur no matter what type it is. Here my basic thoughts:
- Recovery is about letting go.
- Recovery is about trying new ways because “our” and “old” ways aren’t working. Trust the process.
- Recovery is scary and hard, especially at the beginning. It takes courage to heal. You must allow the fears to exist and do what needs to be done anyway.
- Recovery is about feeling your feelings. The symptoms aren’t really the problem. They are there to protect you from feeling your real pain. Therefore you have to be ready to face your truths about your life, your past, your family and your future as hard as it could be.
- Recovery is an ongoing process. Therefore we need to learn to be patience with ourselves, with the world and our own process.
- Recovery is about breaking through the all or nothing and perfectionist mentalities. It is about taking one day at a time. We need to break down every single project and remember that the day that we want to do it all we are setting ourselves for a relapse.
- Recovery comes when the pain to keep the disorder is greater than letting it go.
- Recovery is about accepting ourselves with virtues and defects.
- Recovery is about learning to live life on its own terms. Life isn’t easy, fair or pain-free.
- For recovery to happen it has to become a priority in your life. Not an option, but a must.