I used to spend so much time thinking about one elusive word: recovery. To anyone struggling with self harm and crippling depression, this word seems to hold so much hope and also so much anguish. I would relentlessly spend so much energy trying to accomplish recovery. I wanted to be suddenly, magically, miraculously recovered. Oh, if only I were free to feel alive again!
But one day, I realized that this word is so much more than a destination to be arrived at when healing suddenly dawns. This word holds hope, but also heartbreak. For when one is facing a mental illness, it is impossible to be suddenly “cured.” Recovery is a journey, a process ridden with hardships and healing. Recovery means being brave enough to face each new day. Recovery means overriding a negative thought and combating it with self love.
One should not feel distraught for feeling like he or she hasn’t recovered. In fact, this stigma to reach an end goal can actually promote the very negativity that recovery tries to prevent. Recovery is a daily battle for some, a choice for others. Recovery isn’t supposed to be instantaneous. Recovery is about choosing to face each new day, equipped with the ability to forgive oneself for any mishaps, relapses, or imperfections. Choosing to fight for oneself again, to learn how to feel again, to love again-that is recovery.
I am in recovery. I am not entirely healed, or whole, or together just yet. I face struggle. Yet I choose to face this stronghold of negativity, and let go of the ridiculous standard that “recovered” means finding perfect healing. Making the choice to stand in the midst of crushing hopelessness is finding recovery.
Recovery is not just for people who feel brave. Recovery is for the weak, who want to learn how to uncover their potential for courage. Recovery describes the healing, not the healed.