Tuesday, 14 November 2017

What Does it Mean to Be Recovered?

When you've struggled from long term mental illness, it is hard to imagine yourself 'recovered' because you don't know what to expect, you aren't sure if a full recovery is possible and lets be real, what the hell is life without a poorly head? We all hope to make a full recovery, where our mental illnesses are a distant memory but how is that possible when it has taken up such a big chunk of our lives? I managed to wake up one morning wanting to not be in this world, scared that I was going to live, so why can't I just wake up one day being fearful of death and with an overwhelming sense of happiness? 

One thing that I have been told numerous times throughout the years is that having structure and routine is two of the most important aspects of recovery, but nobody warned us that no matter how stable we may be, we still feel broken, we still would rather die than live and that things are still absolutely shit. Is this what recovered means? To be stable, away from self-destructive behaviour, not actively trying to end our lives, some days feeling not happy nor sad, just a dull numbness in between and other days spent sobbing over how much we want this pain to end, but can't see a way out other than to end our entire existence? If you're able to go out frequently, face your anxieties, hold down education or a job and maintain relationships, does that make you recovered? Despite the fact that your head is still a busy, overflowing state of evilness and darkness? Despite the fact that you still don't see the point in continuing? Does being discharged from services or free from medication make you better? Do we truly manage to recover? Is it possible? When I think of recovering or being recovered, free from mental illness it just seems completely impossible. I have been in recovery for almost four years now and it is exhausting and so. much. hard. work. but things are still bad and I still wake up with a gut feeling of dread and sadness towards the day. I still am fighting everything inside of me to make it through the day, every single day for things to still be rubbish. 

Being recovered is defined as returning to a normal state of health, mind or strength. The internet is full of articles telling us that it is possible for people to recover from mental illness but compared to all of the people who came out the other side, completely recovered and living normal, happy lives how many people didn't make it? How many people spent their whole life trying to recover and trying to reach that happy and content feeling? How many people lost their battle to mental illness?

Mental Illness is a hard illness because it is essentially invisible despite some of its side effects being very visible. I have tried too many times to pretend that everything is great, to make myself as busy as possible to distract myself from my head, to do forty hour weeks at work just to escape the darkness and emptiness deep inside of me but eventually, it all comes crashing down no matter how hard you try to avoid it. What happens when everything in your life is going amazingly, when you've got a great and supportive family, a job, a boyfriend and incredible friends but everything still feels insanely dull and down? Will it ever go away? Does it ever end? Or does it just end you? 

One of the hardest things I have found so far is that when you become unwell as a child or teenager, the weeks, months and years zoom past and suddenly you're trying to recover as an adult when you really didn't believe that you'd make it this far, you didn't even think you'd make it to your 13th birthday yet here you are, an adult. I am such a different person to what I was pre-illness and so much has changed, I'm not sure if this is due to my illness or simply because I have gotten older but almost everything is different. You hope and expect to return to the person you was before, but you were only a child then and you had so many different opinions to what you do now. You've had to mature and it is really difficult trying to work out how to recover into adulthood considering that the majority of your teenage years have been a blur. I don't know what I want to do with my life, I don't know what sort of person I want to be so how am I expected to recover into normality when I am clueless to what this normality is?

Surely a full recovery is possible because we're all still here, living our lives and trying to get through the days because of hope. There is always hope and there are so many people living proof that it is possible to live a 'recovered' life, its just so difficult to understand how you get there, when every one step forward is thrown back down with three steps back. You may be reading this thinking that I am being so pessimistic but it is such a difficult topic to get your head around after being unwell for so long. How does it work? When will it happen? Why hasn't it  happened yet? But it has already started to happen, it is just a slow process with lots of baby steps but one day those baby steps will all add up into big steps and before you know it, you'll be carefree and feeling alive, despite it all and you might have the same relationships, job and ambitions but it also could all be completely different and it might be what you expected, what you dreamed of but again, it might not be but everything will seem worth it in the end no matter how many months or years it takes, you'll get there, we all will because it has been proven so many times from tonnes of different people across the world. And sure, some people might be pretending that they're fully recovered when they're far from it to give you hope, but among them, there has got to be so many honest people who have made it to the other side, who couldn't imagine their life being any better and who can't believe that some time ago, they were that person who was filled up with anxiety, self hatred and negative thoughts, that they were you. But they've been there and they've got through it and they've shared their stories to inspire and prove to us, that we can and we will do it, we will make it because they were once in the same position as we are, unsure about our futures and who we are without our mental illnesses. 

Yes the bad days, weeks and months still heavily outweigh the good but why give up now? After all the fight you've been through, after all the battles you've won and after all the years of sadness? We're so much closer to being recovered than we were and we've been through too much to quit now, so whilst we're stable and even on the days, weeks and months that we are not stable at all, we must keep moving forward because we have to be the ones to change, we are the only ones who can fix ourselves and we must keep going at it, because if not, what was the point? We have been built up strong and better days are coming, we just have to keep at it because we could be so much closer than we think. We are worth so much more than our illnesses make us, we have potential and we will get through this. Anyone can get through mental illness, it just takes time and dedication. Surround yourself with good people, do fun activities and always talk to people about how you're feeling because it is the best therapy. Go out of your comfort zone and when things don't go to plan, rise above it instead of hiding away. You're worth so much more, just believe me when I say it.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x


  1. Thank you for sharing such a brave & honest post! Sometimes trying to make sense of it all really does feel like such a losing battle, no matter how many times we go over & over it in our heads. Keep being kind & patient with yourself, remain hopeful & keep going with small steps. The brighter days will become more frequent & the dark days will become less significant. Lots of love, Jessica (withopenwings)


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