Hopeworks Community’s blog speaks from the perspective of a mental health care patient advocate. He draws some important distinctions between recovery and treatment:
Is treatment a necessary or a sufficient condition for recovery? The answer is clearly on both counts no. Mental health professionals have stolen the notion of recovery and defined it as the result of some type of professional service. It has left recovery as an emaciated thing with little power or ability to meet the needs of people in severe distress. One friend said it succently, “I feeel like I am in the old Wendy’s commercials. I am still looking for the beef.”
Recovery is the result of succcessful living. Successful living is always a matter of degree. Recovery is when the gains in life begin to make a difference in the way you experience and live life. Recovery is life getting better and that “getting better” giving you increased ability to make life to come better and better. It is about restoration and transformation. It is about life anew. It does not mean things are all sunny and sweet. It does not mean life is not hard, although it should mean everything is not hard. It does not change life as much as it changes your capability to deal with life.
Some of the things that make life more successful include (but are not limited to) experiences that help to be more aware and open to the world around you, experiences that help you to learn how to anticipate and and see where things are going and help you to develop tools and skills to deal more successfully with those events, anything that increases your strength and capabilitities in life, anything that helps you to connect with other people and them to connect with you, that what gives you confirmation that life has meaning and purpose, anything that empowers you to make decisions about your life and accept responsibility for those decisions, anything that helps you to think before you act, and anything that helps you to understand and accept that some things are beyond your control and no matter how bad it feels in any moment that is not all there is and life can and does get better. And all that probably is just scratching the surface. Recovery is a difference that makes a difference.
Treatment only matters when it is part of successful living. For too many people, too often it is not. No matter how much it helps it is not the same thing as successful living. It is only a tool and like all tools it only matters how well it works. By itself it is never enough. And any program that tries to get their clients to identify their success in life with their participation in that program has done an injury that far outweighs any good they may have done.
Recovery is when you know it can get better, that you can make it better, that people support you in the making it better, that sometimes messing it up is part of it getting better and you can learn from mistakes, and that it is well worth the effort and that you are committed to making these truths guide and inform you in your pursuit of a better life.