What is Recovery?

The standard definition of the word recovery is ‘a return to a normal state of health, mind or strength.’ Recovery is typically associated with being cured, or becoming symptom free.

Whilst recovery in this sense may be achieved more easily in some areas of our health, when it comes to our mental health, being ‘symptom free’ is often an unrealistic standard for many.

Over the past few decades, the word recovery has undergone the process of redefinition in the mental health context. The recovery movement pioneered by service users and practitioners with lived experience has expanded rapidly, focusing more on what we can do with our mental health, rather than what we can’t.  Recovery has been described as a ‘personal process, way of life or attitude, involving the growth of new meaning and purpose beyond the effects of mental illness’ (Deegan, 2003).

Deegan, also stated that ‘the goal of recovery is not to become normal. The goal is to embrace the human vocation of becoming more deeply, more fully human’

These definitions are empowering, more achievable and directly challenge the notion of ‘returning to normal.’ They promote the concept that we can live and work with our mental health and perhaps even learn from the challenges we face in order to help others. Many think of recovery as a journey or prefer using the term ‘recovering.’

Personally, when I hear the word ‘recovery’ I still think of it as a destination rather than a process so I tend to use it with the word journey when talking about my own experience with mental health.

And so on to the name of this blog. Journey in old French means ‘a day’s work.’ Upon coming across this a short time ago it resonated with me and my own recovery journey. There have certainly been times in my life where managing my mental health has felt like my whole day’s work. Thankfully today it is just a part of the day’s work.  A much larger part involves supporting others in their own recovery journeys (alongside a little rest and play of course…)

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