What does recovery mean to me?

In April we put the call out for more stories to share as part of our #SmashingStigma Campaign. Throughout May we will be sharing blogs about ‘Recovery’, some from the studio and some from newfound friends who have been inspired to tell their story and support our campaign. This guest blog is from Charlotte Underwood

When you think of recovery, you think that eventually you will be cured and able to live out your life before the storm hit. I suppose it’s incorrect for us to use recovery as a term for healing our mental health because in all honesty, there is no cure and if there was, would it then take us further away from who we are?

Something I have learnt is that recovery is not a goal rather a state in which you do not feel as controlled by those dark thoughts, where you feel better in yourself and find yourself feeling more human than you have in a long time.

However, recovery does not mean things will always be on the up, in truth recovery is more like a wiggly rollercoaster, you are going to have good and bad days but the important part of recovery is you can take those bad days and still wake up the next morning with a will to keep fighting.

I’ve been battling with my past for a long time, as the past is where most of our mental health stems from. It would be pretty honest for me to say that the universe has really had it out for me despite me only ever trying to put good out into the world. I remember there was a time when I was so angry and bitter that I became reckless, I didn’t care if I lived or died, I had no purpose or goal other than to spend as much as my existence on this earth being inebriated.

Life can do that to you, it can take the world’s most loving and empathetic people and squeeze out every drop of joy that lurks on your veins. Mental health is simply our individual response to that, some of us are stronger, some of us are weaker and some of us just get hit over and over that we become exhausted and can’t fight any longer.

I would say I have been in recovery for a little while now, maybe only a few months if I am honest as my last suicide attempt was at the beginning of the year.

I can tell you with a big smile of my face that I am so content and comfortable in my existence right now, I feel like I am floating on air, this is a feeling that I have not felt in such a long time.

I believe that because I have been writing so much about mental health, I have come to terms with my past and have understood myself, the fact that my writing helps others gives me this sense of belonging and purpose that I had always lacked. I am so excited for my future and to see what it holds, I want to have a big family and live on a large bit of land with so many rescue animals and write for a living – a dream that I am going to succeed in, which means hope I lost has returned.

So what is the secret? It’s been in front of you the whole time, it is learning to respect and accept every part of yourself, to allow yourself to be cared for and to be happy. It’s also about only allowing people in your life who want to lift you up, a plant can only survive so long without water. You need to be kind to your soul, feed it and learn to live, prioritise yourself and recovery will be happening before you know it.