When most of us think of recovery, we probably first think of it in terms of abstinence. Shows like Intervention and many different talk shows that feature people who are in recovery talk about an absence of substance use. So no more drugs, no more alcohol. In our case, we would think of it as no more picking, pulling or biting. We think of it as a stoppage of a behaviour and returning to what society would consider normal.
That’s a pretty narrow definition of recovery. Only one option and one way to go about it, when really, there are different ways to recover for everyone.
I feel like the Canadian Mental Health Association is pretty spot on with the definition on its website.
“Recovery is the personal process that people with mental health conditions experience in gaining control, meaning and purpose in their lives. Recovery involves different things for different people. For some, recovery means a complete absence of the symptoms of mental illness. For others, recovery means living a full life in the community while learning to live with ongoing symptoms.”
So for some of us, being in recovery means being pick-, pull-, or bite-free, while for others it just means being able to live in spite of our disorders. Either way is perfectly acceptable and one should not be favoured over the other.
What recovery really comes down to is getting out of that suffering and helplessness stage and being able to breath easy again. Or easier at least. It’s getting to the point in which the disorder doesn’t have as much of a negative effect on our lives anymore, if any effect at all. And that level of impact varies from person to person.
That’s the most important part to remember: that recovery is individualized. Don’t look at someone else and feel bad because that’s not where you are because you are on your own path and recovery may look entirely different for you. Your recovery may be slower coming, or may come at you in a different way than you were expecting.
Just like the true realities of life, there is no one size fits all. We have to figure out what works and what’s best for us.