Why There's Nothing Wrong With Saying You're in Recovery From Mental Illness

Some people in the mental health community don’t like the word “recovery.” I’ve known this for years now. Some feel it’s stigmatized and a way of trying to make people seem “cured.” I’ve even had people think I’m lying about my recovery and I’m still extremely depressed, or think I’m just hiding it. It’s actually infuriating when a couple of people have done that to me. It’s as if I can’t tell the difference in my own state of mental health. Also, as a person who is in recovery from major depressive disorder (MDD), I must say that my recovery definitely doesn’t mean I’m cured.

I will have to take care of my mental health the rest of my life. For me, recovery means I am finally able to function again. When I was severely depressed I couldn’t even get out of bed in the morning. I had days where I couldn’t eat and couldn’t control any of my emotions. I was absolutely hopeless. I refused help and I had no methods of self-care or coping. I was completely lost and suicidal.

However, three years later, I’m a whole different person. I have received medical treatment, learned coping skills and I do have methods of self-care. I can get out of bed and function. If I have a bad day, I don’t completely lose it anymore. I can laugh, smile, do activities and actually enjoy them. Most importantly, I finally feel like my life is worth living.

That is what recovery looks like for me, and I am damn proud of it because I never thought I could get this far. My recovery is important to me, but guess what? If I ever severely relapsed back into depression, I’d be honest about it. I would receive the help I needed and go right back to working on my recovery all over again.

Mental illness is a battle. No matter if you’re going through it severely or if you have found your own form of recovery, it’s still a battle. This is why I’m so passionate about advocating about mental health –because we are all fighting. However, I will never be made to feel ashamed of saying I’m recovered. I went through hell and back to get this far and my journey will never end, but it’s my journey and I’m willing to keep owning it.

To anyone who reads this article, I just want you to know there’s nothing wrong with using the word “recovery.” You’re not saying you are cured and are done fighting. You’re just stating that, while you’re still battling, you realize you will always have a fighting chance — life can get better and you still have a chance of happiness. It’s OK to own your recovery and it’s OK to reach for it. Never let anyone make you feel any different about it.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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Thinkstock photo via amazingmikael

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