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Why a Scatterplot Better Represents Mental Illness Recovery

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I’ve heard people say it over and over again — recovery is not a straight line.

It wasn’t until recently that I found a good visual representation of recovery. It is a scatterplot.  The reason why recovery is like a scatterplot is because it’s OK if your recovery is not a straight line as long as the trend is positive.

When using the scatterplot as a visual for recovery, the X-axis can be the date and the Y-axis can be how good your day was. Every day you can plot one point. Points closer to the bottom aren’t very good days, points closer to the top are good days and points in the middle are OK days.

One characteristic of a scatterplot is that there are outliers. These are points that are not near the other points and don’t really fit the trend. Even at the beginning of recovery when most of your points are near the bottom, you may have one or two really good days. This doesn’t mean recovery is over. There’s still work to be done. On the other end of the spectrum, you could also have a bad day or two after consistently having really good days. This doesn’t mean that you’ve failed or that you’re back where you started. It just means you need to keep trying.  As long as the trend is positive, you’re still making progress and that’s what’s important.

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Originally published: August 18, 2017
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