Why I Hesitate to Call Myself 'Recovered' From Mental Illness

Living with mental illness is hard. Sometimes, though, the hardest part is not having an end in sight; in fact, mental illness can be like running a race when you don’t know what a finish line looks like.

I am so much healthier and happier than I was a few months ago. I prioritize self-care more than ever before, I try to look after my body as best I can, and I try so many coping strategies and self-help techniques before reaching out for further support. On not-so-great days, I am still able to treat myself with kindness, and honestly, I never thought that would happen. I learned my favorite self-care is sitting with a good book, some hot tea, and a blueberry face mask. I learned sometimes taking care of your body means looking after your skin, making sure you get enough water, and reminding yourself to eat on super busy days because food is fuel. All of those things being said, I hesitate to call myself “recovered.”

Here’s why:

1) I sometimes think “recovered” means things are the best they are ever going to get. And being a driven person, I always want to strive for better. I am so happy with where I am right now, but I never want to give up hope that things can get even better.

2) I don’t want to be seen as a “success story.” While I love sharing my story and using my own experiences to help others feel just a little bit less alone, I don’t want people to praise me. I don’t want to be seen as an inspiration because it makes me feel like a fraud sometimes. If I call myself “recovered,” I fear people will think their “finish line” is where I am right now, and they need to find their own.

3) If there’s anything I’ve learned throughout my journey with mental illness, it’s that it’s not so much being 100% recovered it’s more getting better at managing. 

Basically, I’m still a work in progress. I am finally in a place where I can appreciate how far I’ve come and be proud of myself, but I still need to work hard every day. I still live with mental illness, and that probably won’t ever change. And that’s OK.

Be proud of your little victories, stay humble, and remember you are never, ever alone. 

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Thinkstock photo by m-imagephotography

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