Thoughts on the Process of Mental Health Recovery
My goal for the Recovering from Mental Illness blog will be to discuss resilience, offer encouragement and share coping techniques I've found helpful in my own mental health recovery. I will also share my mental health challenges so that we can learn from one another.
My Mental Health History
My experiences include abandonment at the age of 8 months old, not knowing my biological father, seeing my mother a couple of times a year and being raised by a set of abusive grandparents. Verbal abuse and physical abuse were constant companions. I moved from one form of abandonment to another.
Life with mental illness started young. I was 9 when my younger brother was murdered by my stepfather. I was there when my mom found my brother. Some things can't be unseen. I was diagnosed with depression at age 10, but not actively treated (because my grandparents couldn't afford counseling or psychotropic drugs) until my early 20s.
I am a survivor of child molestation by family members, rape by my half-brother, a relationship fraught with domestic violence and cancer. I survived each one but carry the scars of PTSD, panic disorder and bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder was diagnosed last year.
Components of Mental Health Recovery
I have learned that inner strength is derived from vulnerability - from facing the uncomfortable and walking through. That does not mean seeking pain; it merely means that pain is unavoidable at times and sometimes the best thing we can do is to feel it, learn the lessons it holds and then release as much of the pain as possible.
My psyche, sense of self-worth, and my life experiences formed me into the advocate for mental health awareness that I am today. I have learned that each misfortune holds equally powerful blessings, even if the blessing isn't immediately visible. I've learned that the uncomfortable moments often hold the greatest lessons and I've learned how to be less afraid of discomfort.
My Mental Health Recovery Tools
While psychotropic medications help, cognitive behavioral therapy, art journaling, meditation and re-framing situations have been the larger part of my mental health recovery. Recovery does not mean that I am never visited by the ghosts of the past. Recovery in my world means that my symptoms are managed and that there is balance in my life. It means passionate self-care, forgiving the past with understanding and knowing that I can choose to be bitter (there is plenty to be bitter about) or I can choose to realize that at any given moment, I don't know all the facts and that life-changing decisions are rarely only black and white.
Mental health recovery is a process and the gift of mental illness is that if we take small steps outside the comfort zone, we learn what we need for our peace of mind. That is where we find our strength. I hope you will join me as we learn together.
Kipp, P. (2013, August 30). Thoughts on the Process of Mental Health Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, May 17 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2013/08/mental-health-recovery-is-a-journey-not-a-destination
Author: Paulissa Kipp
Journal entries from relapse to recovery are as if I am fussing at myself. Ten days ago I was told by my therapist I am in relapse. She said I am not taking care of me first. I do not like to hear those things so I made a list of taking care of me first. I put my puppy, my sister, my parents after me. I got back to what works. Gospel music, line dancing, hygiene daily, eating more fruits and vegetables. I read the Bible, Upper Room, meditations, etc. for positive feeding. I find a project I can start and finish. Walking or riding the bike help. To top all things, I make sure I have all meds and take them. It is harder to get back up! I have to remember I have to take care of me first. I have to put emotions into positive perspectives. Then I have to make sure I remain in my lane. The longer I'm in my lane the more I feel recovered.
Thank you, Sheryl, for sharing what has worked for you. Blessings on your journey.
I have been in treatment for anxiety/depression for 26 years. I have done everything from medication, to group therapy, to cognitive thinking therapy (what a joke) to shock treatments. Aside from a "lightening of the load" for brief periods of time, my condition still persists. I am on a regimen of medication now that is working on my depression quite well. By that, I mean I am out of the bed, getting dressed each morning, doing a few household activities and not consumed with thoughts of suicide. My anxiety is not near what I would like it to be. I deal with mostly by anxiety meds. PRN. I am not where I once was with my condition, but certainly better. Do I think I will ever be cured? NO! Do I believe that making slow strides is part of my journey, most definitely.
Mental disorders as specific illnesses exhibit misunderstandings between professional and non professional community, as well. They are chronic and partly cured diseases, with many relapses or/and recidivs in their long-term courses. However, mental disorders can be treated successfully by current psychiatric treatment. This treatment is complex and multimodal treatment, which last long time. Normally, individual approach model is standing way, like your mental health recovery with many psychiatric entities, since your young age. Every rigid and reductive psychiatric protocol indicates counterproductive psychiatric treatment and management of respective mental illnesses. Psychiatric entities are more than common non psychiatric disorders.
This was a very well thought out and worded article-I am sure all of the readers, like myself, have suffered from some sort of abuse, although not as intense as yours. We all carry our baggage, but when we are finally no longer to be a victim in our minds, and choose to be a survivor, is when the healing can start taking place. I too, have been diagnosed as an adult with bipolar disorder, and wish it would have been sooner, because this is the first time I have stayed in treatment for over 2 years-of course I have bad day, bad memories etc, but now I have more tools in my box to deal with it-AND remembering that some of the suffering I have been through has made me the wonderful, complex and sensitive person I am today somehow makes it worth dealing with.
Thank you, Laura. It is a process to move from victimhood to survivorship. The challenges can be blessings if we choose to ask "What is this situation meant to teach me?" Kudos to you for seeking help and doing the important work of learning about yourself.
I very much appreciate your post. For using the word resilience. For not using the word victim. I have blog myself (bipolarcicus.wordpress.com) in which I have banished the word victim. It's such powerful about having no power. I particularly agreed with your ideas about other tools we can use aside from medication. I look forward to reading more.
Hi Terry! Resilience is important. I find it is a delicate balance when we are strong or viewed as strong. Sometimes the caveat is that others brush off our pain when we're hurting. Resilience, in my opinion, means hope and knowing that this too, shall pass. While I do take meds, I don't think they are the end all or be all. Thought processes go a long way toward recovery. I will be visiting your blog as well.
Thank you for sharing these hopeful thoughts. They give me hope for a struggling family member's future.
Thank you for sharing your story and the treatment plan that works for you. I noticed you did not mention meds. I wonder if bipolar (especially) can be treated without medication. That would be wonderful and worth the effort it would take, I think.
Thank you Deborah. I did mention medication,but chose not make it the primary focus mostly because there is such a broad range of medications out there that I don't feel qualified to discuss them. Nor am I comfortable discussing which meds I take for my mental health. I do, however, recognize the value of meds for mood-stabilization, reducing anxiety and so much more. I will research whether there have been studies conducted on non-drug treatment of bipolar disorder and do a blog post in the near future.
Thank you for sharing your story. It's horrific, and tragic, but having come form an equally as disturbing background, I know exactly what you are saying. At 55 years old, I still struggle with depression, PTSD,and panic attacks from my teen years. Best wishes on your journey.
Thank you Brenda. I feel for you and your experiences. You are here and facing each day with courage. Baby steps.