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Recovery In Mental Illness Is A Myth (And More People Need To Know It)

NOTE: To some, this will seem like a play on words. To me, however, this is the difference between feeling bad or “OK” to feeling good or “confident.”

There is nothing that I did A) That “caused” my mental illness, and B) There is no attitude to adopt “because” of my mental illness (before I am worthy of “living” and “life”).

I am worthy of “living” and “life,” as an individual, today—right now—in this very moment!

I am not my circumstances, and I can “try” my best each and every day, to live a life that I am PROUD to live.

Some basic terms that I grapple with in mental health are A) recovery and being recovered, and B) relapse and relapsing.

Recovery is a myth because you never fully get better! Your illness never disappears and IF recovery is this “gold standard,” in which everyone is supposed to be working on/towards (WHEN it’s impossible to achieve), you are setting yourself up for failure!

You know what is possible to achieve?

  1. The realization that we are not our circumstances.
  2. The realization that we can “try” each and every day, to live a life that we are PROUD to live.

And, for me, I say, “phooey” on recovery!

15 thoughts on “Recovery In Mental Illness Is A Myth (And More People Need To Know It) Leave a comment

  1. I agree. Maybe the way I understand recovery, as a lay person, has deviated from the concept of recovery in psychology but living is hard enough without mental illness, and I thought the idea of recovery is exerting additional pressure on the person to make the efforts to maintain that goal and to prevent a relapse, that’s too much stress.


  2. In a clinical sense, relapse and remission are used when symptoms are episodic; for example, someone with bipolar or major depressive disorder may have relapses involving manic or depressive episodes, with periods of partial or full remission of symptoms in between. For depression, research has shown that treating to full remission of symptoms (if possible) offers a better long-term prognosis than treating to “response” (which is often used in research studies and is defined as a 50% reduction in symptoms). Recovery isn’t a term that’s defined clinically in terms of symptoms. Personally, I used to have full remission of symptoms between depressive episodes, but as my illness has evolved, that’s no longer the case.


    • I understand that those terms have some use within psychiatry and psychology, but to me, I don’t like them in the outside world. We haven’t done anything to cause our illnesses, and we don’t have to do anything to try and fix us. We just need to live.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree. But when you’ve written about remission it sounds like you’re writing about it as being synonymous with remission, and that’s not how the term is used in the context of the recovery that’s so popularly spoken of these days.


      • Recovery isn’t a psychiatric term. The recovery model was developed as an alternative to the medical model, and is focused on the individual as a whole person rather than the illness, and recovery is used in the sense of living a meaningful life, regardless of whether or not there are symptoms present. The Wikipedia article on the subject isn’t bad:


      • I am skimming the article. To me, I just don’t like the word. It is loaded imo. I didn’t do anything that requires a “recovery.” I suppose it is different for different people (i.e. for those who also have substance abuse issues), but for me (and, I can’t speak for others), the word is not a good one to describe my having mental illness. I don’t have to recover, but I do have to try. So, since recovery is deeply personal, I choose not to use the word to always describe what I am doing. And, I am happy living life my way with my approach. Maybe it is just semantics. Could that be?

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s totally fine for you to use your own approach and not like the idea of recovery. But if it’s frustrating you that other people are pro-recovery, it may be worth considering that they’re looking at recovery in a different way.


      • I understand, and I greatly appreciate your sharing this with me in this way. Thank you for the insight! I think I may be beating a dead horse to some degree and/or misunderstanding the idea (and, how it is defined uniquely by everyone who uses it — including me). Thanks again!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so glad you wrote about this. A family member close to me doesn’t like talking about the fact I have bipolar and is always telling me “You will win this fight and recover.” NO! I won’t! Him saying this makes me feel so guilty at times for not being able too, even though my logical brain KNOWS this is a life-long brain illness!!


    • It’s lifelong, and it’s not your fault. You’ve done nothing wrong that you need to recover from. Popular culture talks about recovery as if you have to do something to make everything better, which you just have to live! I am glad you liked the piece. 🙂


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