What do you all think about the word ‘recovery’ in terms of mental health issues? I’ve been thinking about this recently, trying to come up with my own definition and I came to realize I just may not identify with the term at all.
I don’t know if recovery is a good word to describe what we all go through to come out on the other side of things. I believe that every second of our lives living with this is something that requires us to go beyond recovery. Because once we’re in that “recovery” stage, for most of us things don’t go away, we’re just better equipped at dealing with things.
I know for me, I feel as if I’m finally coming out of a fog. That fog was devastating and has lasted almost three years. I did a lot of ridiculous things because of my paranoia and my mood swings, including dropping a lot of classes, losing some jobs, risking the one job I still do have, and was unable to connect with proper support. I went on and off medication, and documented most of that descent on this blog. I even bought this website domain and hoped to turn this into something greater, but failed because depression ruined my passion. Slowly, I’m getting that back.
Is this “recovery”, though? I don’t think so. I’m not recovering from anything, I’m just learning how to better cope with my emotions, how to better feel them and how to better manage them. That to me is a journey. I’m on the other end of my journey, it feels like, and maybe one day I’ll return to that fog with better equipment to put up with it all. I don’t know. So to say that someone struggling with mental health issues is in recovery almost sets them up for failure–if they return to that previous state of mind, what does that mean? That they’re not in recovery anymore? To me, that doesn’t make sense. To me, it’s just another hiccup in their journey.
Word choice is very specific in the world of mental health. If you walk up to someone who identifies with the label of schizophrenia and call them “a schizophrenic”, a lot of those people would correct you, that they are someone “with” schizophrenia, that they are not defined by their condition. Which is great for them, whatever creates a sense of control over what they deal with. Some people also hate the term “committed suicide”, a lot of them prefer to say that their loved one died from depression or whatever drove them to take action.
The only word choice I have issues with is if someone refers to themselves or other people as “mentally ill” or “mentally diseased”. I’ve done plenty of posts on why I believe those terms should be erased from our vocabulary. In case you weren’t there when I was ranting about that, or don’t remember my rants on it, I’ll give a quick summary:
I choose not to believe my problems are illnesses, I choose to believe they are a result of my dealing with emotions in a different way than others. If I’m hearing voices, it’s not because of some degradation of my brain, it’s because there’s a level of stress I’m reaching that I’m not tending to. If my moods are swinging out of control, it’s not just some biological imbalance, it’s my reaction to life and whatever is going on at the moment, whether that be something good or bad. I choose to see myself as gifted, and I’m thankful to the nurses in the hospitals who had also had that viewpoint. It made my stay a lot more comfortable.
There’s also no real viable research that mental health issues are diseases since all of the brain matter studies they have done have been on people who have taken psychiatric medication, and that changes the brain structure, that’s something that’s been known for years. So:
That’s my reasoning.
But otherwise, I don’t care what you call me. I don’t even have a steady diagnosis. So call me a Bipolar, I don’t really care. Call me a depressed freak, I don’t care. You can even call me a schizophrenic, but you’d be mistaken–either way, I don’t care. Because what someone calls me holds absolutely no weight on how I see myself or how I see others. Just like the debate years ago over changing the term schizophrenia to something else, to “remove stigma”. The stigma isn’t attached to the word, it’s attached to people’s perspective of the mental health struggle. Change the word all you want, it’s not going to make a difference.
So when I think about the word recovery, I guess it’s kind of the same thing. Whether you’re recovering or coping depends upon your perspective of your own mental health. That makes sense.