Concepts of Recovery:
From Wikipedia. There is some variation in how recovery is conceptualized within models. Professionalized clinical approaches tend to focus on improvement, in particular symptoms and functions, and on the role of treatments; consumer/survivor models tend to put more emphasis on peer support, empowerment and real-world personal experience.
Recovery can be seen in terms of a social model of disability rather than a medical model of disability, and there may be differences in the degree of acceptance of diagnostic "labels" and treatments. In psychiatric rehabilitation, the concept of recovery may be used to refer primarily to managing symptoms, reducing psychosocial disability, and improving role performance.
A review of the psychiatric literature suggested authors are rarely explicit about which concept they are employing; the reviewers called "rehabilitation" perspectives those which focused on life and meaning within the context of supposedly enduring disability, and "clinical" those which focused on observable remission of symptoms and restoration of functioning.
From the perspective of psychiatric rehabilitation services, a number of qualities of recovery have been suggested: recovery can occur without professional intervention; recovery requires people who believe in and stand by the person in recovery; a recovery vision is not a function of theories about the cause of psychiatric conditions; recovery can occur even if symptoms reoccur; recovery changes the frequency and duration of symptoms; recovery from the consequences of a psychiatric condition are often far more difficult than from the symptoms; recovery is not linear; recovery takes place as a series of small steps; recovery does not mean the person was never really psychiatrically disabled; recovery focuses on wellness not illness; recovery should focus on consumer choice.
For many, "recovery" has a political as well as personal implication where to recover is to find meaning, to challenge prejudice (including diagnostic "labels" in some cases), perhaps to be a "bad" non-compliant patient and refuse to accept the indoctrination of the system, to reclaim a chosen life and place within society, and to validate the self. Recovery can thus be viewed as one manifestation of empowerment.
An empowerment model of recovery may emphasize that conditions are not necessarily permanent, that other people have recovered who can be role models and share experiences, and "symptoms" can be understood as expressions of distress related to emotions and other people. Recovery may be seen as more of a philosophy or attitude than a specific model, requiring that "we regain personal power and a valued place in our communities. Sometimes we need services to support us to get there".
My Own Recovery
1. Finding and maintaining hope:
For me recovery means freedom from energy and mood swings, like sleep disturbance and the kind of depressive withdrawal that has kept me in bed for up to 20 hours a day, during my worst periods of hopelessness. Freedom from what health care professionals call symptoms, means feeling at home in my body, I feel recovered because I'm finally comfortable in my own skin, free of the fearful neuroception that excludes any maintaining of hope. For as long as I was motivated by unconscious fear, each new finding of hope and maintenance of it followed the classic bi-phasic cycle of the autonomic nervous system that maintains the bipolar condition.
Like the finding of hope that the initial bipolar diagnosis brought, when the relief was quite wonderful, yet like so many others that burst of hope for a stable future could not be maintained through the trail and error experience of a cocktail list of hit and miss medications. Over a thirty year period only the cycle of dashed hope was maintained while my autonomic nervous system remained hidden from any conscious awareness, until insights won through education revealed the power of my trauma conditioned nervous system.
Insight has been the key to my recovery, and finding new hope for a future that is greeted with an anxiety free anticipation like never before. Armed with new insights from almost a decade of earnest reading and self growth experience I now inhabit my body in a way not known since birth. Having explored many of the observational theories and concepts about the human condition which inform most talk therapies.
I settled my recovery strategy on somatic psychotherapies which are informed by recent discoveries in brain/body neurobiology. In particular Peter Levine's somatic-experiencing and his techniques for discharging the survival energies bound up in a truncated trauma response. An unconscious and habituated natural FREEZE response is at the center of my bipolar experience, with a cyclothymic-anxious-sensitive disposition a genetic susceptibility rather than any single gene cause.
I found hope by allowing myself the full experience of a six week manic episode which has helped me make sense of my three decade long bipolar experience, when viewed through new insight's and a felt acceptance of my trauma conditioned nervous system. I now use Levine's " titration" method on a daily basis to help maintain the hope I found in insightful education and its experiential integration, the process continues in this journey of a life.
"The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination." _Carl Rogers
My identity has taken on new meaning these days and is contained in holistic feelings of what I am, not who I am and being identified by the label of my social name. This sense of what I am feels more valid than who I am, when understood as the self esteem of feeling comfortable, secure and confident inside my own skin. Using Levine's titration technique to discharge the survival energies of trauma conditioning, I now feel whole and instinctively complete, equipped to face each passing moment with free flowing spontaneity, a real manifestation of empowerment.
Traumatized people are too “suppressed,” too stuck in “primal defenses” more appropriate to our amphibian or reptilian evolutionary predecessors. In what ethologist’s call “tonic immobility,” helplessness, we are “scared stiff.” In human beings, unlike animals, the “state” of temporary freezing becomes a long term “trait.” A paralysis of will, shame, depression and self loathing following in the wake of such imposed helplessness. Peter A. Levine Ph.D.
"Recovery can be seen in terms of a social model of disability rather than a medical model of disability,... of diagnostic "labels" and treatments," with that bracketed word forming the cornerstone of so much resentment towards objectifying our experience as labeled symptoms. I'm hoping that you can see the link here to my previous descriptions of an (animal) autonomic nervous system, and sense how objective logic is a product of instinctive survival needs. Surely the visual identification of objects in the external world underpins our immediate experience of a minds eye and is the bedrock of human reason? Is our objective logic an emotive expansion of the reflex orienting response?
Accepting the reality of my evolved nature with an unconscious and habitual freeze response as the core of my bipolar condition, my recovery is now centered on a holistic feelings of wellness, not an absence of labeled symptoms. My identity is now grounded in a felt awareness of the sensations of being, rather than an objectified mentality based on the separation of objects. Unlike an elaborate clock my 100 million cell brain has no hard edged definable parts for easy identification, especially when viewed through the feedback loops of brain/body nervous system activity operating at millisecond speeds.
Why does the body remain tense and restless, even while a person sleeps? The answer might be that
the body is still responding to stressful experiences from the past that were internalized by a
natural protective response called - the FREEZE RESPONSE.
Recovering from mental illness has been possible for hundreds of thousands of people around the world, and it is a wonder of this modern age that we are able to share our stories of the journey together and raise the level of common awareness.