Mental health / Mental Health & Wellbeing

More Like Remission Then Recovery?

Recovery
noun: recovery; plural noun: recoveries
a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.
Remission
noun: remission
a temporary diminution of the severity of disease or pain.
~ OED

So, I mentioned the other day that I’m feeling better, and that unlike last time I told you I was better, when I was actually mistaking mania for genuine happiness, I think I can be more confident that it’s real this time. That’s because where before there was euphoria and a whirlwind of activity this time there’s only a decidely unexciting feeling of stability.

Unexciting is good. Unexciting is healthy, realistic. Regular people don’t go through life being overwhelmed with excitement every hour of the day and night. ‘Normal’ life is actually quite boring.

I think I’ve finally arrived at a realistic level of expectation of what this ‘getting better’ process involves and how much I can realistically expect to acheive. I know it’s taken me a while to get here but in my defence I’ve been somewhat handicapped by the fact that I didn’t really have much appreciation of what I was aiming at; having experienced no periods of ‘wellness’ in living memory, only being extremely high or more frequently extremely low.

For the longest time I thought the goal of ‘recovery’ was to hit the highs again, to go back to being filled with boundless energy and enthusiasm and running around like a crazy person. Even after I realised that state was just as unhealthy in its own way as the depression I still found it difficult to let go and accept that if I wanted to be healthy I needed not to feel that way again. I found the idea that mood/mental state is a spectrum pretty much like any other, and that all the healthy bits of this particular spectrum are in round about the middle, to be incredibly depressing in and of itself.

Having experienced manic ecstacy a humdrum, average stability didn’t seem like a sufficient reward for the Herculean effort of pulling myself out of the pit of my depression.

To move on from this I’ve had to learn a whole different way of looking at my mental illness. I’ve had to come to truly understand that my conditions are just not sick/well type of things. I’m not aiming to get better and then never have to worry about any of this ever again, I’m learning to manage my health, mental and physical, and my lifestyle in a way that keeps my depression, anxiety, trauma, and personality disorder in check; so that I’m able to carry on with the rest of my life alongside continuing to deal with them.

‘Recovery’ as I’ve always understood it to mean is not an option here. My mental health problems haven’t gone away, they’re just not getting in my way anymore. Continuing to keep them in check will be an ongoing process of monitoring and managing, learning and healing. And it would still be unrealistic to assume that they’re never going to overwhelm me again.

So, I think what I mean when I say that I’m feeling stable is that for the time being my illness is in remission.

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