More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
What is recovery?
By Jennifer Forbes
Fri, May 25 2007

The National Network For Mental Health (NNMH) included these definitions of recovery in its latest newsletter. They are taken from ReStorying Psychiatric Disability: Learning From First Person Accounts of Recovery (P. Ridgeway, 2001).

  • Recovery is the reawakening of hope after despair.
  • Recovery is breaking through denial and achieving understanding and acceptance.
  • Recovery is moving from withdrawal to engagement and active participation in life.
  • Recovery is active coping rather than passive adjustment.
  • Recovery means no longer viewing oneself primarily as a mental patient and reclaiming a positive sense of self.
  • Recovery is a journey from alienation to purpose.
  • Recovery is a complex journey.
  • Recovery is not accomplished alone-it involves support and partnership.
My favourite description above is that of recovery as a complex journey. Illness & recovery are not black & white phenomena. One can follow the other. But, they can be cyclical as well. Also, a person can be both recovering and experiencing illness simultaneously.

While professional intervention can be helpful in determining one's stage in the recovery process, a person should evaluate his/her intrinsic state. Only then, can one determine his/her place in the journey of recovery. In other words, I think professionals provide benchmarks and those in recovery have to look within themselves to more appropriately gauge their progress.

Clearly, recovery is a subjective and personal experience.

How do you define recovery? How does it relate to your personal experiences, mental health-related or others?

just mary

My definition of recovery would be the first and third points:

-Recovery is the reawakening of hope after despair.

-Recovery is moving from withdrawal to engagement and active participation in life.

The other points are important also, but the above is what mainly defines recovery for me.

Hope is important and when I've lost it (which seems to happen more and more often), life becomes a struggle.

To me, active participation means connecting with others, something I haven't done in awhile. I would really like to talk with someone, to let my guard down and just talk but also to listen, to understand, to connect, to feel not so alone. I get so tired some days. I know my problems aren't insurmountable but when I can't/won't talk about them, they stay large and obstructive. And sometimes, just listening to others helps, someimes other people are going through similar things and I don't feel so at odds with the world. But sometimes you connect with the wrong person and it just makes everything worse.

Anyway, how do others define recovery?



I think the statement: "Recovery is active coping rather than passive adjustment" is very meaningful; at least, it is for me. I'm sure I'd been putting the building blocks in place throughout therapy, but the point at which I could actually stand up and make my own decisions with purpose, and without constantly questioning myself, was the real "awakening" moment for me. That was the point at which I realized that I was a fully capable, useful, worthwhile member of the human race - and began to believe it enough to act on it, even when others didn't agree with my decisions. :)
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