Living life on the borderline

Recovery of an unspecified nature.

Posted on: May 10, 2012

What, precisely, is recovery? Because this concept is starting to get my goat.

The Mental Health Foundation describes it thus:

What is recovery?

For many people, the concept of recovery is about staying in control of their life despite experiencing a mental health problem. Professionals in the mental health sector often refer to the ‘recovery model’ to describe this way of thinking.

Putting recovery into action means focusing care on supporting recovery and building the resilience of people with mental health problems, not just on treating or managing their symptoms.


Rethink Mental Illness has this to say on the topic of recovery:

Recovery as a concept is about the process of building a meaningful life as defined by the person with a mental health problem themselves.

There are four key component processes suggested:

  • Finding and maintaining hope
  • The re-establishment of a positive identity
  • Finding meaning in life
  • Taking responsibility for one’s life


Trying to work out how these relate to my individual story is difficult. Compared to how my mental health was 6 months ago or more, I could be considered “recovered”. My self harm is no longer severe, if it occurs at all. I’m attempting living without medication and I haven’t needed a “break” (of a psychiatric-facility nature) in this time.

There are still things that can trigger a full-scale emotional tits-up, things which I don’t thing are that obvious or understandable. Hearing a story about abuse or bullying in the news won’t set anything off, but I can spend a week or more in a state of constant anxiety over particular nicknames, or songs, or smells, or people behaving in a certain way. I still wake up screaming from nightmares and I still dissociate, quite noticeably “going offline” at times.

This is where I get confused. If I view myself from the point of the “model” of PTSD, these could be thought of as “symptoms” that will be “recovered” from. I’m starting to doubt how valid this is though. Not doubting the validity of the experience, but who would react quite normally and sane-ly when confronted with traumatic experiences? Wouldn’t adapting to such experiences as a normal part of life signal madness on someone’s part? Society as a whole would be in even more of a mess if we had no sense of justice, or self-preservation, or self-protection or… feelings.

So I don’t really know where this leaves me. Maybe the time will come when I’m not as severely affected by things. At what point can I say “that’s enough recovery, the rest of it is just being human”? Or vice versa maybe, how much of my reactions are being human and how much is mental illness?


2 Responses to "Recovery of an unspecified nature."

Not doubting the validity of the experience, but who would react quite normally and sane-ly when confronted with traumatic experiences? Wouldn’t adapting to such experiences as a normal part of life signal madness on someone’s part?

Not to go all anti-psychiatry on you (I am most definitely not of such a persuasion!), but I think this hits the nail on the head.

My therapist is always banging on about how PTSD and DID and suchlike should lose the ‘D’ – ie., “disorder” – from their names, because they’re entirely ‘ordered’ responses to trauma.

Also, he recommended a book called Going Sane which discusses how we’re all, by default, ‘insane’. It argues that we’re then moulded into ‘sane’ moulds by societal convention. When someone breaks that, for whatever reason, then society feels threatened. Etc etc.

It’s a little ‘out there’ for me – I think it takes the concept a little far. But the thinking behind it, namely that ‘insane’ responses to trauma are actually the epitome of sane, seems pretty valid.

Anyway, sorry for rambling! I know things are far from perfect, but I’m glad that things are at least a bit better than they were 🙂

Take care

Viv x

I don’t know how anyone can say ‘yes, I am recovered!’
recovered from feeling a certain, understandable way about something traumatic? It is sane to feel.

As Viv said, it’s great to hear you’re doing better 🙂 x

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About the blogger.

I'm an 18 year old girl/woman/person of the female gender who blogs about growing up, living with mental health problems and her experience with the NHS mental health services, both CAMHS and CMHTs. Expect plenty of teenage angst and general craziness. Nothing out of the ordinary here.

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