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Forums / Staying well / The Trouble with Recovery..

Topic: The Trouble with Recovery..

11 posts, 0 answered
  1. Kat1985
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    19 February 2015

    "It starts as a light shower, foggy, misty, enough to make you realise you are probably going to need that umbrella. As the rain gets heavier, you expand your umbrella, you find some shelter and you hope that with these protective measures in place, you’ll be able to avoid the storm that may well follow. Sometimes you’re lucky, and the storm never comes. The umbrella, and the shelter, have saved you from the wrath of a storm you’ll never fully understand.
    Sometimes though, it’s not that simple. And no matter how big the umbrella is, even if you’re in a storm shelter, the lightning, the wind, and the thunder crashing around you, destroys everything in its path, taking away your sense of hope, strength, and courage, leaving you to wonder whether it will ever pass. Will the sun ever shine again? Because right now, you really can’t be sure.
    And as you pull yourself out from the rubble around you, waiting, hoping for that damn rainbow to appear and prove to you that this storm, no matter how severe, will pass, and you will survive, just as you have with every other storm you’ve encountered so far."

    The trouble with recovery is that, for most of us, it's a journey, not a destination.  It's easy in those moments where the road to recovery becomes bumpy, winding, and unfamiliar to feel as though you've slipped back to exactly where you started.  It becomes easy to forget that you're not the same person you were in the beginning, you're braver, you're stronger and you've proven that you've overcome these bumps before.  The trouble with recovery is that there will be bumps in the road, the road will continue winding, you will lose sight of the road ahead at times, and each time, despite the logic that you're still trying after all this time, you still feel like a failure at recovery.

    This week has been the most emotional week I remember having in forever, and in each of these emotional moments, I've questioned myself as to whether I'm really on "the road to recovery"...  The truth is recovery is a journey, not a destination, and in the confusion of the two, we forget that sometimes we might take two steps forward, and one step back, and that's perfectly okay.  The trouble with recovery is there are no rules, there is no definite path.  We all have our own journey to travel, some going in completely different directions than others.  The trouble with recovery is... keeping the faith that I can do this, I am worth it, and that I am enough.

    3 people found this helpful
  2. geoff
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    20 February 2015 in reply to Kat1985

    dear Kat, I'd like to welcome you to the site with this very profound description of our journey with trying to overcome depression.

    I like the way you have used 'umbrella', as I often use this noun as describing mental illness, that is all the different types of depression fall under it, such, anxiety, PND, PTSD, grief, loss of losing someone, suicide, OCD and list goes on, and when we are able to collapse this umbrella it holds and contains all of these illness's, but then we hit a bad time or have a relapse, and up it goes again.

    'Our recovery is a journey and not really a destination', because each time we fall back, it could be for a different reason, similar, but we learn from each time it happens, although you could say that our destination is to get better, but are we able to do this the same way every time, maybe or maybe not, but we are susceptible to the flaws of this illness, and we try every possible way to overcome it, so perhaps this is the journey we take. Geoff.

    2 people found this helpful
  3. zailleh
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    20 February 2015 in reply to Kat1985

    Wow Kat! Welcome to the forums.

    That was an extremely eloquent post. You've put that so beautifully and you're absolutely right, recovery is definitely not an absolute destination and forgetting that can get you into trouble. Thanks for posting this! I think it's an excellent reminder. 

    Building on what you've said, from my perspective "recovery" is a way of life. 

    I could also relate recovery and this "way of life" to a foreign language that I've just begun learning. I've got the basics and the syntax down, I know some basic words and how to string together some formulaic sentences but I'm not conversational.

    2 people found this helpful
  4. Beltane
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    20 February 2015 in reply to Kat1985
    Heya Kat and welcome to beyond blue

    What an eloquent beautifully written post that was. Are you a writer? If not, maybe you should consider writing more! There are even ways to self-publish your writings on amazon and other sites as ebooks!

    You've certainly described the "journey" of life with a mental illness very accurately. but then also, you have really described life in general accurately. Are our lives with mental illness really so different from anyone elses? All humans suffer, all humans have flaws, we all have pain, have illnesses and disease, we have all "demons" that haunt us- demons we have to fight to live a stable and well life. The only difference i think between those of us with mental illness, and those that dont, is that a couple of our demons have names "depression", "anxiety" "ocd". Other people have terrible demons too with names that arent medical names.

    I'm a massive fan of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. In that therapy we are very against putting labels on our feelings. Humans naturally feel all the facets of all possible emotions- happiness, sadness, anger, peace, fear, confidence... you name it, we feel it. Our problem is that we then choose to categorise them as "bad" or "good". When we categorise them as "bad" we become fearful of them and do everything we can to avoid them- its really quite unreasonable.

    Where's this weird expectation that we should always be happy 24/7 all the timem? Its not even possible, and yet we act like being anything other than happy, peaceful, cheerful, energetic is somehow a bad thing. We say things like "cheer up", "whats WRONG with you today".. and in doing so we make ourselves feel like "failures, losers, hopeless" just because we feel one emotion rather than another.
    Yes medical clinical depression is an illness that needs to be treated, but natural normal human emotions need to just be... accepted for what they are.
    "yeah ok, i feel sad. and thats ok. right now i''m sad. let it be, it will pass in its own good time and then i will feel something else. thats ok, thats normal".

    All things will pass when they're ready to do- though of course, if we need therapy and other things to help work through them so that they pass, thats perfectly wonderful.

    words like "remission" "recovery" are so vague... what do they even mean? A doctor would say i'm in remission, but that doesnt mean i'm truly free of all symptoms- i probably never will be completely rid of them. but they dont bother me much at all
    2 people found this helpful
  5. Kat1985
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    20 February 2015 in reply to geoff

    Thanks Geoff. I really appreciate your feedback and welcome message, it's so great to feel welcomed into a community of those who can relate so well.

     I did not even consider the umbrella holding that meaning, but it makes complete sense and reminds me that people can interpret the written word however they like, and hopefully people are able to use their own examples, just as you have done to make my writing something they can relate to, and it creates a base platform for them to get what they need out of it. 

     Thanks so much for responding. Your response has opened my eyes to so many possibilities of where I can take my written words and use them to help people relate and understand.

    2 people found this helpful
  6. Kat1985
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    20 February 2015 in reply to zailleh

    Hi Zailleh

     Wow, thank you for your kind words. It's feedback like this that show me that I'm heading in the right direction and that by writing and communicating my feelings, I'm able to help others see and think about their own journey. I love that you've provided your own examples of what recovery means to you. It's always good to see (read) the way others view these things, and to open your eyes to the possibility that sometimes there is another viewpoint to take, and in those moments where recovery takes those two steps backwards, it brings comfort to remember this; and to see things from another perspective. :-)

    2 people found this helpful
  7. Kat1985
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    20 February 2015 in reply to Beltane

    Hi Beltane...

    Firstly, thank you so much for your compliment about my writing. To answer your question, no, I'm not a writer, but after posting things like this and 3000 word status updates on Facebook, where I'd expected maybe 3 of my friends to read because of the length, and having them shared (one over 300 times, mostly by complete strangers, and receiving so much positive feedback from being open and honest about my feelings from friends, family and complete strangers, I do feel inspired. A lot of them have mentioned I should write a book, a lot have hugged me and told me that I made them cry on the train on the way to work, or that my writing was something they weren't able to put down, and felt compelled to read all 3000 odd words. I really love your recommendation about the ebooks. I will definitely have to look into that!

     And you know what, you're exactly right. Other "normal" people experience emotions just as those of us with mental illness. Ours may be more severe or we may feel things more deeply. We may not always have a reason to explain why we feel the way we do, and that does lead us to label the emotions as good or bad. Essentially leading to a path of self-sabotage when the emotion becomes overbearing and is now crippled with guilt. I've also done (touched on) a little of the acceptance therapy, and as hard as it can be to rationalise these thoughts sometimes, I believe it's very helpful, to accept the emotions for what they are.. Just emotions... Feel them, acknowledge them, and let them go. The longer we keep labelling the emotions we feel as "bad", the longer we will continue to struggle with the added guilt, and push ourselves into a place where we get to a point where we don't believe we are worth it. Thank you for sharing this. It really has me thinking about several things happening in my life at the moment, which I am definitely not allowing myself to feel, because I've labelled them as "bad" emotions, and this has helped remind me that I'm allowed to feel this way, and I can accept these feelings as they are, just feelings, and by allowing myself to feel them, I'll be able to stop rethinking them over and over again, squeezing them back inside me, and finally feel them, experience them, and eventually set myself free and let them go.

    Truly, thank you. For my first forum post, I am so impressed by the people here who are supportive, offer insight, and remind me that I can do it, that we all can do it, and we are enough!

    3 people found this helpful
  8. Chris B
    Community Manager
    • Works for beyondblue managing these forums. Not a mental health professional, but here to help. Email: christopher.banks@beyondblue.org.au
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    24 February 2015 in reply to Kat1985

    Hi all,

    Welcome to the forums, Kat, and thanks for your writing. This thread has got me thinking. Recovery is a word that can be ambiguous, and in the context of mental illness (which is ambiguous at the best of times) perhaps not always helpful.

    This forum stream is called "Recovery and staying well". Do you think perhaps we should rename it to just "Staying well"? Or would another term work, based on the discussions above? Keen to hear your thoughts.


  9. Beltane
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    24 February 2015 in reply to Chris B
    Great idea Chris, recovery is such an ambiguous word. And Recovery is not a quantity: we cant measure how "recovered" a person is. And as seen in the posts above, i think it has negative connotations. Because its like there's this goal "Recovery" and if we somehow don't feel like we're there we feel resultant guilt, shame sense of failure etc.

    I'm starting to consider my language very carefully with depression/ anxiety etc. I consider that they are illnesses I will have for the rest of my life, in some form or another. I try very hard to avoid making statements like "i cant cope/ am not coping" but rather "i am struggling at this particular time, this feeling will pass in time".

    I dont say "I am depressed" becuase that language suggests that depressions is what i am, who i am. It is not, depression is something that i HAVE, not who i am.

    Even positive words like "recovery", "remission" can have heavy meanings. What even are they? What do they really mean? How do you know you've gotten there? De we just go around in circles chasing this elusive and mysterious "recovery/ remission" when really, maybe its easier to just accept the life stage you're at without placing "judgement labels" on it.

    I think words like "well" "stable" etc are less judgemental, and far less ambiguous. Its far easier to judge "how am i today, am i feeling well today?". And "well" is not a judgemental word, its a state of being. Where as if you said 'do i feel good today" that is a judgemental word, because again it can carry feelings of guilt and failure if the answer is "no".
    1 person found this helpful
  10. Chris B
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    24 February 2015 in reply to Beltane
    Okay, executive decision - forum title changed :) 
    2 people found this helpful
  11. JessF
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    27 February 2015 in reply to Kat1985

    Hello Kat, I really identify with this too. And I have a quote which I think sums it up well, which is (believe it or not) from a politician!

    "If a problem has no solution, it may not be a problem, but a fact - not to be solved, but to be coped with over time."

    Funny to have a politician making sense for once, but this is true for me. I have ceased seeing my depression and my anxiety as a problem, it is just something I cope with over time, sometimes well, sometimes not so well.

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