Many people use the word “recovery” and in a relative fashion they all use it wrongbecause there are so many ways to define it, and there’s a drastic difference between a person’s “recovering” and having been “recovered.” In my opinion, for all intents and purposes, “recovery” stands for the process of finding coexistence with one’s mental illness and stability of life, with such an understanding acknowledging the application of the word across the field of significances and circumstance. Moreover, the most important aspect of a person’s recovery (or in the treatment of a mental illness to avoid that three-headed monster of a word) is in my opinion the support system, and this is not simply because (as you might have noticed) I have a great one. That said, because I do have such a great support system, I am privy to the advantages of having a good, family-centered support element to fall back on. I don’t know where I would be without my own. My mother, in particular, who put her
life on hold to be next to me in the infancy of my coping and recovery (its quite unavoidable, isn’t it), comes to mind. The love my mother has given me throughout my ordeal with mental illness ultimately embodies the benefits of a support system for me. She was and continues to be there for me emotionally as someone I could talk about my problems and, never critical of my issues, continues to this day to be my most valuable opinion. On another level, she learned to navigate the mental health system, which of course is not the easiest thing to do, and has helped me with everything from DSS paperwork to debt forgiveness. Most importantly, she has been the most driving force in my rehabilitation (which must be the most defeatist word in the world of mental health) other than myself, helping me to necessary therapy appointments and encouraging my further education so that I in my time can help others. She was the one I could depend on when I couldn’t depend on myself. She was there for me when I wasn’t. Our relationship has never been nor could be stronger.
Next to this, it is likewise remarkable that throughout my experiences I have seen (I say I have seen rather than experienced because in the world of mental illness there is a vast difference which, if you have seen, you will understand) what happens when one experiences mental illness and has no real support system to fall back on. To some degree it seems as if losing those early battles that could have been mitigated by a consumer with the right motivation destines someone to a life of being relegated. More commonly, it alienates a person who is already alienated, something I see a lot with families that refuse to accept their loved one’s illness, for any number of reasons refusing to recognize the gravity of their loved one’s situation, where the mere act of family or love from those people who are privileged enough in a sufferer’s life to love them is the best medicine any doctor could prescribe. To be there for a person as part of their support system in any context is to love them, it is to embrace them and their illness together, to give when they need, to help when they need help. And love, when it is readily given and readily received, goes a long way. It is the best medicine.
In so many words, if you happen to know someone who is struggling with a mental illness or just struggling, please love them.