One True Friend

One True Friend
One True Friend

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Recovery: A Journey

    Recovery from mental illness is hard. I remember the enlightening moment when my daughter, Ashley, told me that recovering is almost harder than the illness itself. I really couldn’t understand that at all. When she was mentally ill, so many things happened that put her life in danger and she wasn’t taking care of herself at all. We always worried we’d get that dreaded call that something terrible had happened to her. How could recovery be worse? She explained it to me. How hard it is to suddenly be clear-eyed and view your life after mental illness. You actually cared about your life again, but you looked around and it was like a bomb had gone off. You didn’t recognize the landscape anymore. Losing friends, being behind in school and in life. Ordinary things like having a job, paying bills, adult tasks, seemed so far away. Then there was the guilt. Guilt of having to be cared for, guilt for behavior you couldn’t control at the time. It all comes flooding back to you. Every. Single. Day. A new guilt, a new thing that had to be repaired. While mentally ill, none of this stuff mattered. Recovery was different. Now you care almost too much, the guilt just feeling like it’s crushing you. It can be overwhelming at times. But not insurmountable. Her words really opened my eyes. This is where family and friends’ support comes in. It is crucial to someone recovering. How many times did I wonder why she wasn’t able to do certain things when she was feeling so much better?
    Now how do I put this knowledge I gained into a painting? I was inspired by a painting I saw of a sad cherub. When I saw it, the wide-eyed, baby-like face, it was haunting. It struck me that this is how I envisioned the first steps of recovery. A self-awaking like an innocent baby, but carrying the heavy baggage of a person who had truly suffered. The yellow rose with the eye symbolizes a new beginning, one that is clear-eyed and in-tune with reality. You can’t get your life back until you reach this point, so recovery itself can also be a positive and amazing journey. It can be made much easier by understanding that it will be a difficult and challenging journey, but can be accomplished! It doesn’t happen overnight just because you feel better. It’s an ongoing process. This is crucial for family and friends to understand also, when wondering why a person in recovery is still not able to do certain things. Encouragement with patience and understanding is a key fact for those supporting someone recovering from mental illness.

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