From Depression Through Recovery to Life as Creative Experience

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All that I am, all that life has made me, every past experience that I have had – woven into the tissue of my life – I must give to … new experience. … We integrate our experience, and then the richer human being that we are goes into the new experience; again we give our self and always by giving rise above the old self. – Mary Parker Follett, Creative Experience

I think of recovery as a slow process of change that aims at replacing depression with a new responsiveness to life. A key part of it for me has been deciding that I would not think of myself as always in recovery. Recovery would be the method for getting back to life. As Mary Parker Follett put it, the essence of life is creative experience – the constant interplay between the best we can put into life and all that it gives back to enrich who we are. I couldn’t imagine getting to that point if I thought of recovery as it’s defined in the prevailing medical model.

According to this model, a condition like major depression continues through life, though possibly “in remission.” Recovery means reducing the impact of the illness on daily living through ongoing treatment using medication and therapy. For me that would mean living the rest of my life with major depression, but its symptoms would be managed effectively. As I’ve written before, this sort of recovery is not for me. It’s a way of crippling expectations about my life – much the way depression itself does.

Perpetual recovery is not my goal, but recovery is nevertheless an essential step in restarting life.

I think of the process I’ve been through in terms of three separate types of awareness: the deadly stillness of depression, the reawakening of recovery and the creative experience of life itself. Read the rest»