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Defining 'Recovery'

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Recovery, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is:

Recovery — noun

1. The act or an instance of recovering, the process of being recovered…

OK, that isn’t very helpful…

Recovery — verb

1. To regain possession or use or control of. To reclaim.

2. Return to health or consciousness, back to normal state or position .

3. Retrieve or make up for loss.

OK, now that sounds much better. Recovery as a verb requires action and movement. Sometimes the movement is forward, sometimes I may move backwards — but at no time does it stand still.

I feel like you have to selfishly guard the process of recovery for yourself, but in order to feel like you are making progress, you need to freely be able to give to another.

Recovery is a process of learning about who you are and how you came to be the person you are in the moment. It’s about learning about your thoughts, feelings, behaviors and taking a good hard look at your past and present. It also gives you glimpses of your future potential.

Recovery does not happen overnight. It is painful and joyous at the same time.

The point I knew I was entrenched in my recovery was when I finally fully understood that even though I may have my moments of active illness, when I’m questioning my skills, competencies and at times even my very own sanity, I would be OK. The rough spots are only my illness trying to take me down, not some epic failure on my part. I learned how to be more aware of myself. I had to be willing to learn new skills to replace ones that honestly weren’t working for me. I had to mentally take myself to places I’ve been trying to run away from all my life. I’ve had to confront a lot of my perceptions of things and have had to give myself a reality check many times. I’ve had to learn what feelings actually were. I had to identify what my feelings were and learn how to differentiate between them.

Then came the monumental task of trying to deal with being overwhelmed by what I actually felt. I’ve had to be open-minded and willing to accept there is a lot of grey in life. Nothing is as black and white as it seems. I’ve learned life can be pretty interesting when some splashes of color are thrown in. I’ve learned there is a time to speak up, but more importantly, I learned sometimes I need to be quiet and listen. I’ve learned I’m not as horrible as I thought I was and now I can look at myself in the mirror and not be utterly disgusted by my reflection and say, “You need to die.” Now I can look in a mirror and say, “Hey, you’re not so bad.” It is a huge shift of perception.

I’ve learned how to sit and accept that there are moments, days and sometimes weeks I’m going to feel really terrible. I’m going to feel horrible physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I’ve learned distress tolerance to help me deal with those times.

I would like to leave you with something I thought to be the most important thing I learned:

“Sometimes it seems the greater the gift a person has to give to the world, the more obstacles there seem to be to the gifts unfolding. These obstacles serve as sort of a protection for the gift till both the person and the world are ready for it.”

Namaste and peace my friends.

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

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

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Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: January 20, 2017
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