Do You Want to Know Why I Hate Recovery?

I have decided to abandon recovery. Instead, I have embraced my Uncovery.

___

I’m leaving my recovery behind because it’s not working very well. In fact, it sucks. But before we go too far into that, take a moment to consider what we mean by the word recovery.

We all know what recovery means, right?

Well, not really. Recovery has many meanings depending on your perspective:

  1. To recover furniture with new upholstery.
  2. To put a cover back over something as in “re cover the bucket.”
  3. To return to a prior state of functioning in body, mind, relationships and/or other domains.
  4. To make a comeback after a mishap in business, personal life, or an athletic endeavor (ie: football game).
  5. To heal a part of your body (or brain) after an accident or surgery.
  6. To reduce or abstain from a substance of abuse and regain health in one’s body, relationships, work-life and the like.
  7. To return to functioning and health after a challenging mental health experience.

This blog is about recovery but if you have come to my blog looking to learn more about recovering upholstery, sorry but I can’t help you there. But… if you want to know how to be clean or more healthy while you are refinishing your furniture, then you are probably at the right place!

Recovery is the wrong word for what we are trying to do with our lives

If I recover my mental health to my previous functioning, I’m in trouble. I will end up back to practicing unhealthy behaviors that include isolation, avoidance, a lack of vulnerability, unhealthy ways of coping with my emotions, negative cycles of thinking, and more depression and anxiety.

The other day I was writing in my journal about recovery and it hit me that recovery is the wrong word for what I am trying to do with my life. If I recover my mental health to my previous functioning, I’m in trouble. I will end up back to practicing unhealthy behaviors that include isolation, avoidance, a lack of vulnerability, unhealthy ways of coping with my emotions, negative cycles of thinking, and more depression and anxiety.

I really don’t want to recover. I don’t want to go back to how things used to be.

Do you?

Do you want to go back to a level of functioning that you used to practice? Probably not. Going backwards rarely helps us to live a more fulfilling, satisfying or meaningful life.

Recovery is the wrong word, but I’m not sure that one word can summarize what I am after. The closest word that I can come up with is “Uncovery…” but it’s not really a word (yet!).

Uncovery

Here are a few thoughts about Uncovery and how it can help you:

  • Learning to Uncover what is inside of you.
  • Taking time to Uncover strengths that you may have neglected or minimized.
  • Looking for exceptions where you have resisted or been free (or free-er) from addiction or troublesome experiences with mental health (ie: depression, anxiety, flashbacks, obsessive thinking).
  • Learning to accept yourself, your past and your experience.
  • Opening up to your past, accepting what you have done and what has been done to you. You can’t change any of it, so you have a choice: accept it, push it away, numb yourself or find other ways to cope.
  • Being willing to be uncomfortable while you are changing – making room for whatever you are experiencing. Feel your anxiety, your sadness, your craving and decide to act anyway.
  • Caring for yourself and being compassionate no matter how often you attempt to change, fall back, or how much you struggle. Whatever decision you make, caring for yourself will change you.
  • Being present to your life, your experience, your relationships and believing that your life can grow and be/come bigger.
Instead of recovering yourself – Uncover yourself: Accept whatever you are experiencing, be willing to open up to life, and care for yourself.

I’m not trying to create a new movement or thumbing my nose at anyone in recovery. Call it whatever you want, when we work to improve ourselves and grow, we are on the right track. What I hope is that we consider the words that we use to describe ourselves and the work we are doing because our words can create unintended assumptions.

Words like recovery are like bricks. Put enough bricks together and you will make walls. Walls make buildings, and buildings make cities. Bricks are formed and set with care. Each brick is unique and needs to be well made, otherwise our walls, our buildings and our cities will begin to crumble.

Your words are your bricks. Use them wisely. Instead of recovering yourself – Uncover yourself: Accept whatever you are experiencing, be willing to open up to life, and care for yourself.

◊♦◊

If you enjoyed this, you may want to check out some of my other writing:

What Can You Do When Your Mind is Not Kind?

A New Definition of Emotional Healing: Acceptance

How to Make Peace With Your Addiction and Mental Illness?

I write articles that talk about the kind of changes I am trying to make in my own life. I hope that my writing also helps you. My topics include addiction and mental health recovery, relationships, and personal growth. I work as an Addiction Therapist, an Editor for the Good Men Project and freelance writer, and Adjunct Professor at City University, Edmonton. But what is most important is that I have a family and I am in recovery from depression and anxiety. My mental health experiences are part of my personal University degree, but they do not define me.

I hope to inspire you, to inform you and on occasion to entertain you. But most of all, I want to connect with you. Sign up for my blog if you want to receive the latest and best of my writing. If you like what I have to say, please share my work with your friends.

Lastly, if you like my writing, you can click here to vote for my page on Psych Central’s list of mental health blogs.

Keep it Real

Photo by  Ralf Steinberger

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