I don’t have any choice


1 a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.

When you search for this word by definition – this is what comes up. It’s a funny word to me. It doesn’t sit well with me to say I have ‘recovered’ from episodes of depression and anxiety. It will mean different things to everyone, but personally I don’t call it ‘my recovery.’

And as for strength? I have been told I am ‘strong’ many times over, and I know that it’s meant as a compliment, but really – I don’t have any choice but to go though the things I go through with my mind, and with what life has presented. My depressive brain is locked in my skull, and no one else can make it better apart from me. I manage my mind with the tools I have access too. It’s a daily thing. Just like managing diabetes, or asthma.

I would align myself more with ‘I am managing my depression’ or if there was a word for ‘closely monitoring myself in the eternal fear and knowledge it could be all consuming again’, I would use that.

2. the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.

This second definition is easier to identify with. This implies it could be repeated. Multiple losses, multiple repossessions. You can lose your mind, your marbles, joy, all feeling etc.

You may well find them again…but not like “Oops! That’s where I put those marbles” (with a tut and a roll of the eyes). More like “Bloody hell, I have had to run about 25 miles, taken 3 buses and had to walk against a fierce gale to get here and collect these. I am really tired, and I will probably lose them again next week”.

Maybe there just isn’t a word big enough to describe the process of surviving and then living again after a period of depression. Recovery sounds so light and easy against the weight of the journey and the utter relief and elation when it has passed. I know that as soon as I let the self care or medication slip, my brain will start to unravel. I think that ‘recovery’ has a certain sense of an ‘ending’ about it. Even though I am grateful for the fact I have overcome many difficult periods where my mind is concerned, I never feel that process is finished.

I enjoy every day, and I am living a fulfilling and happy life, but I am constantly walking with this potentially wild beast next to me. Sometimes a bit too close and its stifling, other times way off in the distance, but I can always see it.

The word recovery can also bring pressure with it. Should it be a goal to be able to say ‘I have recovered from depression?’ To have been able to repel this beast forever? I haven’t worked out how.

Physically you might recover for a long time, when you can function again, see colour, taste and feel again, but recovering from the memory of it is another process entirely.

Throw this word into a group of people who have experienced mental illness, and watch the debate begin. The word is emotive, and the reaction to it is a perfect demonstration of how unique each lived experience is.

Maybe it needs to be more like ‘I currently have authority over my illness’ or ‘I am in the driving seat now’. That would leave room to maneuver.

On February the 11th 2018 we launched a crowdfunding campaign. We want to start a conversation about mental health that is powerful. No more treading on eggshells. We are not invisible, We do not want to be hidden away. Our work in the studio and shop is #SmashingStigma every day, and now we are going to be a little noisier.

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As part of the campaign we are also looking for more blogs about mental health stigma, so please get in touch if you have a story to share.

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