There isn’t a single definition of recovery, and many don’t like to use that word. They may talk instead about adapting to an illness that never goes away completely, about managing symptoms; about healing the whole person; or about gaining deeper insight as a result of the struggle with depression.
Whatever the words, living well is the hope, and the specifics are as varied as our individual lives. We’ve started a series of Recovery Stories to complement the posts, like those listed here, that explore the many ways people try to get life back from depression.
Recovery should aim at restoring psychological well-being as well as ending the symptoms of depression. Naturally, you get into treatment to stop the pain of those symptoms. It’s a huge achievement if the treatment works, and you can keep depression from ruining your life. But so many people relapse after initially getting better that full recovery has to mean more than focusing on what’s wrong. It should also move you toward a goal of wellness. […]
Finding purpose in life that goes beyond your personal needs is often mentioned as a major step in overcoming depression. That’s a hard thing to imagine, though, when you’re in the middle of a severe relapse, and survival is the only goal in sight. Yet, one of the hallmarks of depression is loss of motivation to do anything because you feel that your life is meaningless. You are meaningless, empty, worthless, bad, nothing but a […]
A lot of people think of recovery from depression as an unending process of managing the symptoms. But I have always hoped that recovery is more than remission of symptoms. Before imagining full recovery, however, there’s the enormous task of getting the most crippling effects of depression under control. I don’t mean ending them altogether, but reducing the extremes. Only then is it possible to think straight about the work of getting rid of depression […]
In this post (one of several I think of as notebook entries) I’ve put together several ideas about healing that underlie the work of Michael Lerner and Rachel Naomi Remen. What sets them apart for me are their insights about the comprehensive process by which people not only learn to live with chronic illness but often change their whole orientation to life. Their work at the Commonweal Cancer Help Center was featured in the final […]
I’m not sure what it is about the word, “recovery,” but for a lot of people it’s a turn-off. I confess I’ve often felt that way too. Perhaps it’s because I’ve known so much more about the journey through Hell than I could ever know about Paradise. After years in the lower world, with only an occasional glimpse of blurry bright patches in the far distance, I’ve been amazed at finally getting out of there. […]
Stories can be an immediate and moving way to learn about someone because they evoke the feelings and experience that factual details never can. When told with honesty and sincerity, a story helps establish a bond of trust because the teller has been willing to open such personal insight to the listener. For me, certain stories have served another purpose even more vital than forming connections with other people. Those are the stories I tell […]
Here’s one part of a post from a couple of years ago, written a few months before I knew I’d really gotten past depression. Stephany at Soulful Sepulcher had suggested that I try assuming this: I have recovered. That really got me thinking and actually proved to be a turning point. I started imagining what it would feel like to be recovered and wrote this as if it were spoken by an actor in a […]
In response to a recent post, Clinically Clueless commented that, for her, recovery was a process, not a destination. She needed to keep aware of it, like those recovering from addiction, in order to catch the signs of relapse. I’ve thought of recovery in a similar way, certainly not a state you arrive at and then take for granted. These days I consider it more like a set of skills that I have to keep […]