The Five Year Mental Health Recovery Theory

October 2, 2012 S.

Once a person receives a mental health diagnosis, the mental health recovery process can be long and difficult. Often, when people see a "healthy-looking" person that has a mental health diagnosis, they aren't aware of the actual timeline of the person's recovery. I know, for many individuals such as myself, it takes years to become a fully functional and a thriving individual again.

Mental Health Recovery: Unmanageable to Manageable

The journey from "crisis" to being a fully functional person again with a new identity (a person living with a mental illness) requires time and patience.

As a society, we have accepted the term "remission" once a person with cancer has been cancer-free for a period of five years. Although a person who has a mental illness will never be "free" of the disease, I think the remission analogy is a useful way to contextualize how long it can take for person with a mental illness to be as symptom-free as possible; meaning the mental illness doesn't impair your ability to live a happy and productive life.

Stable and Thriving

I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in April 2007 and it wasn't until Fall of 2012 when I could, based on my own personal criteria, state that I was once living my life in a manner similar to the lifestyle I had before my diagnosis.

The way a person may measure this is based upon your own experience. Before my diagnosis, I was in graduate school, married and living a fairly "stable" life. While in recovery, I became divorced, wasn't able to attend school, was in constant treatment and couldn't participate in daily activities.

I am now remarried, pursuing a graduate degree, volunteering and participating in leisure activities again. My bipolar treatment is minimally intrusive now and doesn't function as a means to "get me healthy" but helps "keep me healthy", which is an important distinction. My mental health is no longer reactive but now proactive and preventive, so I don't have to have my life interrupted by my mood disorder.

Mental illness and the intensive treatment needed to stabilize a person who is in crisis or experiencing an acute episode can resemble the all-consuming nature of cancer treatment due to the fact that both are life-and-death situations where the necessary interventions are to be life-saving.

There is hope and mental health recovery is possible. It just takes time.

APA Reference
S. (2012, October 2). The Five Year Mental Health Recovery Theory, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 24 from

Author: S.

July, 6 2015 at 10:51 am

My son is suffering bi polar and when he is having an episode he hates me and thinks we all have an agenda behind his back...when hes taking the medications or on court ordered injections he does really good and loves us and know we love him,,,its been really tough since his last true episode he comitted a crime and hes no criminal,,so he was caught within minutes and even though I had a petition for his treatment they took him to jail psyche ward for 110 days,,i could not visit him it was HELL on me...I could talk to him 5 times in the 110 days-sometimes in his paranoi he thinks I had something to do with his incarceration though I tried EVERYTHING to get him hospitalized BEFORE he did something wrong ( i thought it was his daily emails to obama that would do it-not a crime..I try to get his case worked MORE involved and his doctor but he can FOOL them because hes a great speaker....what should I do?

August, 22 2014 at 2:09 am

I have been thinking about "mad time" as a subset of "crip time"
For many if us we have a 'non linear recovery journey' with repeated episodes of minor, moderate and major intensity with varying frequency over a lifetime...that might prevent or delay our life events.
I have been relitively well for three years now but don't think of that as remission because I still have minor episodess often.

September, 24 2013 at 11:47 pm

I see you're not posting anymore. Too bad. I rather enjoyed your blog. I like the name as well.
I was just thinking how important it is to remember your baseline - otherwise, it is so easy to identify too much with your illness, and it becomes difficult to not be affected by all the negative slings and arrows that fly in your direction, that is, if they do (not everyone has to deal with such a bad fallout).This post does sort of nudge you into thinking about recovery in a way that doesn't make you feel that all is lost, and that you'll have to start from scratch - which in itself is overwhelming. Thanks for such a positive perspective.

February, 13 2013 at 8:58 pm

It was great to read your comments about recovery with bipolar disorder. I was diagnosed in 2001 and it literally took my life from me. I went from being a full time correctional officer raising my three children with my husband to a woman who lost her children to her family, lost her job and barely survived on disability. It took me until 2007 to fully recover. I went back to school and am now a paramedic with only 8 months left until I graduate with my bachelors in psychology and I am headed straight to graduate school. I am currently being considered for a supervisors position at work and I haven't had to disclose my bipolar diagnosis to anyone except my three best friends and that was by choice. Now, when I have a flare up, I have support from them and my medical team to get me right back to my life pretty quickly. You are right, we can recover and function at the same level as before or even higher. Thanks for the reminder!!

Dr Musli Ferati
October, 13 2012 at 12:46 am

Your genuine experience with bipolar disorder gives evidence of satisfying psychiatric treatment to bipolar disorder as serious mood disorder. The same is value for any other mental illness; beginning from banal anxious difficulties to most shudder psychotic entities. But the issue was became complicated if we didn't respect principal recommendations of appropriate psychiatric management of respective mental illness. Among them the long-term process of treatment takes first place. generally, mental illnesses are chronic ones, which requires a continuous and long time psychiatric medication and follow up supervision. The current intention of psychiatric treatment is the process of recovering that means to restoration global life skill, in order to lead a functional life. Your personal experience with your bipolar disorder for five long year period documents the above mention conclusion. In consequence, the patience is crucial need to overcome the bereavement repercussions of any mental disorder. Otherwise, we should to face with hard complication and unpleasant course of concrete mental illness. So, the damages would be of immense consequences for both: the pertain person and its family. Finally, your successful recovering from bipolar disorder let be as good incitement for other people with mental disorder.

October, 9 2012 at 5:40 pm

Wow. It's amazing to know there are people out there who are/have experienced the exact same symptoms and are survivors and actually happy. I can honestly say that there are days when I just wish I was dead, only to feel the exact opposite within minutes. Like everything in my life was fine two hours ago, when it wasn't, and in my head, I was contemplating suicide. How do you guys do it? Please help me. I'm newly diagnosed and struggling for answers, and support.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Shawn Maxam
October, 10 2012 at 4:56 am

Sarah it is pretty difficult but I think as you said you are newly diagnosed. Now that you have "accurate" diagnosis you can now engage in the important work of recovery. I think communities like HealthyPlace are helpful. Also there are in-person supports like NAMI -… and DBSA -
You can find tons of support from all of these places. Thanks for your openness, honesty and bravery. Good luck in your recovery.

October, 7 2012 at 4:40 pm

I went for six years with very few symptoms of my Bipolar 1 disorder. Then last November, everything went crazy as I flew into mania for three months. Then cycled for four months and now I am having ECT treatments for depression of the worst kind. I still go to work every shift and I haven't quit school yet, but I am struggling so hard. I just don't understand why I can do so well for so long and then have to start the journey to recovery all over again. I think it's awesome you have a good handle on your illness and I pray everyday I will follow suit.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Shawn Maxam
October, 10 2012 at 4:59 am

Autumn relapse is uncomfortable part of recovery. I think you can find a variety of supports here at HealthyPlace and via your local NAMI or DBSA as well. I think you have shown great resilience already and I am fully confident that you will see better days. Thanks for sharing and be good to yourself.

October, 6 2012 at 11:07 pm

This seems about right to me. I went on disability 4 years ago when I was unable to work because of severe bipolar depression and I finally feel like I'm getting my life back under control. On top of that, I feel grateful and content. Life is good!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Shawn Maxam
October, 10 2012 at 5:01 am

Congrats Andrea. I am glad things are getting better. Thanks for sharing and bring hope.

lisa grissom
October, 6 2012 at 8:36 pm

I know what u mean! After my last episode & hospitalization it tool me about3-4 yrs to feel normal, get on with my normal activities, & for most part b syptom u can get! The last 3 yrs have been my best in the last 10yrs, w/o anykind of major set backs but then i start to think, how long can a good thing lsrdy, & do i have another episode just waiting for me around the corner??

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