What is recovery? According to María Moliner’s Dictionary (2007), one of the meanings is: “To recover something that was lost”. In our case, that is, in the case of people with mental disorders, that “something” is as different in each one of us, as our pain is.
The first thing we lose is mental health, but with it, it can go back to an important part of our life or, sometimes, the entire life. And for me, the distinction between accepting the disorder or resigning to it is the key. The resignation must be abandoned as soon as possible: assuming it means that you do not believe that you will recover what you have lost; that your life in no way is going to look like the one you had. The resignation will cause you self-stigma which, in turn, will cause you to suffer discrimination, in some cases, non-existent. It is not easy to get rid of it, I do not think anyone can say it. In my case, looking around me, in a very broad sense, allowed me to stop considering myself a victim in a world in which diseases do not question sex, age, strength, illusions, hope, love.
Therefore, with the first step we have to get all the help that will allow us to continue the way in the easiest way, knowing that we will encounter many obstacles. One of the most necessary supports is the relationship with other people. The denial of our disorder, which we succumbed assiduously, can be overcome it if we know other people who have lived our own “experience.” The relationship with others who, not only do not deny it, but also talk about it with total naturalness and live with total normality, can make us brave.
In this regard, we must highlight the extraordinary role played by, among others, our association, ActivaMent. It performs tasks that undoubtedly help many people to enter that encouraging tunnel of recovery. I myself became a member at a time when I already had recovered what I once lost, but it is a positive experience for me to help my colleagues, whatever their situation is.
Equally important is to relate to people who do not have a mental disorder. It should be a most enjoyable relationship for all: they should do their part, but so should we. Just as our way we must do it step by step, also the people of our environment need their time: time to assimilate that in their lives the disorder has entered, to know what their behavior must be and what the type of relationship should be, and this should be fully respected. In my case, to reach the moment of acceptance of my disorder, the relationship with my family and friends played a key role. The fact that they wanted to protect me, at first, generated my rebelliousness. But it did not take me long to discover that there was no motive, that it was not about submission. Simply, as I was progressing in the recovery process, they were releasing reins for me to take them by myself.
The relationship with my friends has also had a great value. The initial fear to confess my diagnosis was, little by little, disappearing as I realized they still loved me in the same way as before. And yes, there were some people who turned away from me: of course, they were not my friends, so it is better to realized that.
At present, I have with them what I call a divine friendship: everyone has knowledge about the symptoms prior to an episode of euphoria or depression; everyone knows what to do if a crisis occurs. But this works in a very natural way: we are practically not talking about my disorder, but not for any specific reason, but because there are hundreds of different subjects. Besides, the lives of my friends also interest me.
My personal experience is that I have not only got back what I had lost, but because of my disorder, I have acquired important values, greater solidarity, altruism and something of which I am very proud: to have overcome all crises and to understand that I can do it again.
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