Recovery is defined as “a return to a normal state of health, mind or strength”. It’s a term used to describe the process of becoming well again-whether that illness be physical or mental. The steps to becoming healthy can be difficult and the process usually varys from person to person. It’s important to recognize, too, that recovery is not always point A to point B, with a continued upward climb in between. The line looks a little more like the sharp up and down lines we see on heart monitors on television -only on slow incline.
This “two steps forward, one step back” aspect of recovering can be frustrating and demoralizing. Whether a person is recovering from substance abuse, a depressive episode or pneumonia-it’s exciting to recognize the progress being made. Unfortunately, having a “bad day” or a relapse can make the person feel hopeless and that they’ll never get better. Support from others, especially those who may have experienced similar recovery, can be immensely helpful in renewing hope and encouragement to move forward.
It’s important to recognize that recovery does not just happen. It requires work and a willingness to change the way one sees the world. We most often associate the “work” aspect of recovery with substance abuse, but it’s also a big part of getting better from any mental illness. Recovering from depression and anxiety takes vigilance against old ways of thinking. It can be “easy” to slip back into negative thought patterns, so getting better means fighting that on a regular basis. If seeking help means going to counseling-there might even be homework. Learning how to fight these thought patterns is much more effective in the moment than during a counseling session, so these assignments are important aspects of getting better.
Acknowledgment of a problem and the sincere desire to get better are the most integral parts of recovery. This is true for depression as much as it is for heroin addiction. However, it is important to respect that people get better on their own timelines. Pushing someone to seek help for their anxiety may not do a lot of good if they don’t think they have a problem with it. Quite often, friends and family see the problem before the person experiencing it does. It’s okay to express concern, but sometimes we have to be patient and allow people to see things in their own time. It is also completely acceptable to set boundaries if the individual is negatively effecting your life. Sometimes those boundaries help them realize the problem.
Always remember that recovery is a personal and varied process. Each person’s experience is going to be different. Even if two people have recovered from the same illness, it doesn’t mean they have gone through the same things. As someone who has experienced depression on and off throughout my life, I recognize that my recovery process does not necessarily mirror someone else’s, nor does it give me the right to think I “know” what they’ve gone through. I may be able to relate to some feelings, beliefs and frustrations, but I try my best to be respectful and not assume I understand their experience.
Recovery can be hard-especially when trying to do it by yourself. A licensed mental health professional can assist in making the process easier and more effective. If you’ve been trying to do it on your own and you’d like some help please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced mental health counselors.