What is Mental Illness Recovery?

June 27, 2015 Hannah Crowley

The definition of mental illness recovery is a “return to a normal state of health, mind or strength. To regain possession or control of something stolen or lost.” For me, and for others suffering with a mental illness, the loosely named "recovery" is the ultimate goal. To integrate back into normality, to regain the possession of broken faculties, to retrieve the logical mind that has somehow been lost. That is mental illness recovery.

I Looked for Perfection and Found Failure

Is mental illness recovery for teens actually a real thing? And is it truly possible? Check this out on mental illness recovery.

Since the age of 13 when I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa -- and from the age of 16 when I finally admitted I had a problem too big to fight alone -- my life has been focused on that one word: recovery.
And here I am, at 25, still searching for mental illness recovery.

I think that mental illness recovery -- as a destination -- is a lie. To define recovery, one has to be able to define normality. And to define normality would take infinite lifetimes. It is impossible, unfathomable and non-quantifiable.

The perfectionist in me has taken the concept of recovery and demarcated it as flawlessness. Excellence. Anything short of that has become worthless. And this is how we trip ourselves up. We become stuck in a cycle -- striving for perfection, making a mistake, giving up, then ultimately beginning again, feeling a little less determined and a little less whole than before.

Recovering From Mental Illness Is to Not Follow the Rules

So this is my postulation; this is my thesis. We are none of us recovered – not truly. And perhaps in order to attain the healthiest state of being, we need to change our perspectives. We need to see that mental illness recovery -- or indeed, any kind of recovery -- is not synonymous with the precision of rules and faultlessness. Recovering from the debris of our demons is learning how to fight, learning self-acceptance, and learning how to give ourselves respect for the brilliance of our imperfections.

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APA Reference
Crowley, H. (2015, June 27). What is Mental Illness Recovery?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 25 from

Author: Hannah Crowley

December, 9 2015 at 4:11 pm

Well said, and thanks for sharing your personal story. Our belief structure on mental health/illness recovery is different. For many, many of us, it's this: recovery is permanently moving away from a horrific even while focusing on solutions to our common problem(s). With this belief structure, it is very possible to experience recovery. I'm not saying we don't have bad days, I'm saying we focus on unlearning, or being content, or being happy (I'm working towards this on a consistent basis...)

November, 13 2015 at 12:36 am

Mental illness recovery is just recovery, not a turn around. You just feel better but not free. Your soul still hurts but not as much as before. You still have that empty feeling. You still have that 'black hole' feeling. The emptiness is still there at recovery. You just try to keep the recovery and continue to grow knowing that the demon inside still lurks at any moment to pull you down. Be strong and go...

Polly clarkson
October, 29 2015 at 1:16 pm

This is really changed my perspective on how I am trying to recover thank you so much xx

July, 9 2015 at 6:58 am

Appreciating the time and energy you put into your blog and detailed information you provide. It's nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn't the same unwanted rehashed information. Wonderful read! I've bookmarked your site and I'm adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

July, 4 2015 at 1:36 pm

Eloquently 17 year old daughter has a dear friend who has struggled off and on for years with similar issues. I myself continue to struggle with similar issues (though consciously, determined and believe I've succeeded thus far to raise a confident, self loving daughter). We talk a lot about her friend, how to support her.... 'normal' is different for everyone, mental health issu.e or not, such a very good theory to share

katie harrison
July, 4 2015 at 10:43 am

We need to raise more awareness about depression so people can get the treatment they need. There are alternative treatments for depression they helped me and many other sufferers out there. This book was written by a sufferer and helped change my life. There's a review for it here

June, 30 2015 at 8:16 am

Well said! To me, I have to take it day to day, and part of "recovery" is being able to do that - having one day that's as good as possible after another and knowing how to deal with them when they aren't. I was told when diagnosed that I was born with my illness and I'll have it my entire life. I'll have better days/weeks/months and worse days/weeks/months. To me, learning how to live the best quality of life day to day, learning the techniques that help me feel best even on the worst days, is a recovery of sorts, and truly if I can do that, I think I'll feel like I've succeeded in dealing with my illness.

June, 27 2015 at 9:10 am

Well Said! I understand what you mean, I'm a perfectionist too. It's really hard to let go of that mindset
It's true life's a journey, not a destination. Things happen to all of us along the way. If we are to get anywhere we must learn to deal with unpleasant things, rest and refuel when necessary but then get on with living

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