Part II – Hard; oftentimes Lonely Work

Here is a favorite explanation of mine about recovery:

“Recovery is a process, a way of life, an attitude, and a way of approaching the day’s challenges. It is not a perfectly linear process. At times our course is erratic and we falter, slide back, regroup and start again……The need is to meet the challenge of the disability and to re-establish a new and valued sense of integrity and purpose within and beyond the limits of the disability; the aspiration is to live, work, love in a community in which one makes a significant contribution.” –Pat Deegan, PhD, quoted in Recovery Now “What is Recovery “

I first read Pat back in 1993 and I cried because she understood the ill person’s experience as it is, burdened by symptoms and then the relief, when well again.  No one has ever expressed this empathy since with more insight and delicacy for me:

Courage and fear was my main diet as I began my recovery journey . Always fear. Fear when I went to my first psycho-education meeting sponsored by UW Hospitals in early 1990’s. I didn’t know how I would be received, who the other people would be in the class —would I be able to talk to them and what would I say?  Courage too, but it always took second place. It is definitely easier to stay home than expose oneself to the risks of rejection and dreadful anxiety that accompanied me whenever I went forward.

Fear when I quit smoking.  Afraid the anxiety of not having cigarettes would cause me to lose my temper around people I loved and lose control of myself.

Fear when I tried out for University of Wisconsin –Madison Choral Union. It was something I wanted so badly to do: To sing within a large group of men and women forming an impressive choir. I had wanted to be part of this since I’d been a college student.  And now in my 40’s I had my voice back (A polyp was removed from my vocal cord and I’d quit smoking)!  Deeply anxious, I simply couldn’t allow myself to speak spontaneously to the Choral Director and I couldn’t think of what to say…… I went to the audition reading my information and questions from an index card.  Nice; I was selected to be part of the alto section!

For the mentally ill, struggling with symptoms that strike to the heart of whom they think they are or could be, Recovery is hard, lonely, lonely work. And so important. I’ve been reading anew a number of documents and articles on recovery and have found some helpful resources to pass on to you.