The word ‘recovery’ doesn’t work for me when it comes to my mental health and that’s fine. It may work for plenty of other people and that’s fine too. When I think of my Bipolar Disorder I know that it’s something that is life long; there is no cure for it and it’s something I’ve had to come to terms with. To me, that means that I can’t recover from it.
I’m aware that recovery isn’t linear and it means something different to everyone depending on your illness and circumstances. It can mean that you are stable, that you’re functioning, that you’re in remission from an illness; it can mean all of these things and more. This is all completely valid if it works for you and I have no problem with any of that, but it doesn’t feel right for me.
For me, the goal for living with my illness is to be as stable as I can for as long as I can, and to reduce the amount of time my mood changes last and the severity of my highs and lows. That’s the goal of my treatment. Along with that, my other goals for my life in regards to my illness are to function as best I can with it, to be happy and to work around it.
To me personally, recovery would mean my illness isn’t part of my life anymore. I have to deal with my illness every day. Every day I have to deal with the symptoms of it; the side effects of medication; being aware of my mood; knowing when to ask for help; being aware of triggers; maintaining a routine; attending appointments; ensuring I keep up with my medication; asking for help when I need it and avoiding things that I know will cause my mood to shift. This is part of my daily life and always will be so I don’t see this as recovery and that isn’t a bad thing.
Accepting the fact that I will have this illness for ever and it’s not going away, isn’t me being negative; it’s me being realistic and self-aware. Accepting the fact that because of my illness there may be some things that I can’t do or that I need to do differently in order to stay as stable as possible is not me being negative or not fighting, it’s quite the opposite. It’s me being aware of the illness and it’s affects; it’s me being completely determined to deal with my illness head on and not let it beat me; it’s me learning what works for me and what doesn’t; it’s me figuring what will be best for me and what will keep me the most healthy for the longest period of time possible; it’s me fighting this illness with knowledge, therapy, research and experience to be able to live my life in the best possible way I can and be as happy as I possibly can.
None of these things mean that I have given up or that I am not fighting, they don’t mean that I don’t have hope and they certainly don’t mean that I don’t have a positive attitude; they simply mean that I know my limits and I am aware of how to work with my illness the best way I can.