Recovery and Mental Illness
It is important to understand that persons with a disability don’t get rehabilitated in the way cars get tuned up or repaired. They are not passive recipients of services. They experience themselves as recovering a new sense of self and purpose which goes beyond the limits of their disability.
Rehabilitation refers to the services made available so persons with disabilities may learn to adapt to their world. Recovery refers to real life experiences as people accept and overcome the challenge of the disability. It is the kindling of hope followed by action.
Recovery is a process, not an end product. It is marked by a growing acceptance of personal limitations from which grow unique possibilities. For many it becomes an attitude, a way of life, a way to approach daily challenges.
If possible, those of us working in rehabilitation would love to manufacture the spirit of recovery and hand it to those who attend our programs as we greet them at the door. We cannot. However, all of us can work to create an environment which will nurture recovery.
To recover, people with a psychiatric disability must be willing to try and fail, and try again. A program is fail proof when a person feels he can always come back, pick up where he left off and try again. The person is welcomed, valued, and wanted.
A second point is understanding that each person’s recovery is unique. Each person is an individual and must find his own special formula for what promotes recovery or does not help. A wide variety of options are useful to the person i.e.: skills groups, social interactions, work, and self help groups.
It is important to recognize the value of support that comes from others seeking recovery from mental illness. It is difficult to convince oneself there is no hope when others around you are struggling and making progress.
Finally, attitudes are vital in providing an environment for recovery. Attitudes sometimes imply a we/they approach. We are normal and they behave in a strange manner.
In reality, all of us are human and have behaved in a strange manner or differently at times in our lives. In accepting this common humanity, people can work together to improve their lives. Recovery is a process each of us uses to some extent including those diagnosed with a mental illness.