What Recovery Means to Me

Recovery is an on-going ever-changing process as well as a state of mind. Since there is no cure for schizophrenia, to say that “I am recovered” would be a lie; however, I can say I am in recovery.

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To me, there is a distinction between the process of recovery and the actual state of recovery. The process is like a river forever in motion that comprises all the different situations and events that change daily like the sun and rain that change the speed of a river every day.

The process isn’t an easy straight line; it takes many steps like the country/western two-step: two steps forward, one step back… dancing forever in circles. And the music never stops; yet, the songs do change.

All of us with mental illness are in the process of recovery; we are just listening to aretha-franklindifferent tunes depending on what point we are at. I can recall times in the institution wanting to sing Aretha Franklin’s “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” to the top of my lungs for in my perception, there were definite moments I felt I received none.

For example, on one of my first days in the institution, I got enraged when I saw the shower list with all of our last names taped to the wall by the shower room. I ripped the sheet off the wall screaming: “My name is _______! I am not in the damn army!”

Well, it didn’t take too long for that feeling and perception to change as the same list was back up on the wall the next day. It aggravated me; yet, at least I didn’t rip it off the wall. Within a few weeks, I felt no anger about the list whatsoever.

So the music changed… In came the tune, “You Learn” by Alanis Morrisette. As a result, I moved on in my process of recovery.

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Yet, the state of recovery is different; it is more like the steady tides of the ocean… It is more constant without much change whatsoever. It is a mentality, an attitude that is slowly adopted over time through the process of recovery.

In the state of recovery, a mentally ill person no longer is focused on their illness so much to the point that it has to be an everyday thing. True, there are certain things one can’t go without everyday that pertains to the illness, such as the taking of their medications; however, the individual is not longer obsessed with the idea/mentality that it is a handicap to living a happy and fulfilling life.

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For example, I no longer sit and analyze every little negative thing about myself as being related to having schizophrenia. In fact, I try not to judge much of anything anymore as being due to my mental illness. I’ve simply quit asking why so much and just accept that I am a unique individual, just as each and every human on this planet is a unique person with different traits.

For me, I when I look at a person that I consider to be in this state, they are engaged and focused on goals and activities that pertain to their individual dreams, hopes and aspirations for life. So for each, this is going to be a bit different.

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One may be working in a job as a peer recovery support specialist; another may be pursuing their GED to further their education; another may be painting and selling their art; another may simply be helping others during their various song in the process of recovery; another may be writing at 2 a.m. in the morning on their website…

All in all, it is important to remember that recovery from schizophrenia is obtainable.