Part of the Human Condition

By Jennifer Hill

Has a mental health provider ever told you that you could not reach a personal goal because of your psychiatric diagnosis (for example, education, career, independent housing, relationship, children, etc.)?

Yes. I was told I could not complete college. I was not encouraged to have goals except medication compliance and symptom reduction or management. Goals were not discussed, only how to deal with illness or better manage stresses.

Tell us what recovery means to you. How would you define recovery from mental health or emotional problems in your own words?

Recovery is realizing that what happened to me caused me to feel emotional distress and finding ways to heal from those experiences. It is breaking free from psychiatry and medications which made me feel like a damaged worthless person. It is being empowered to live well, be happy and create my own life free from abuse and the pain of abuse. It also means healing from the mental health system that hurt me even worse. I am also free from addiction and self harm. It is believing that I am worthwhile and valuable as a unique individual.

If you could send a brief message to someone receiving mental health care today who is feeling hopeless about getting better, what would you say?

Believe in yourself. You are not damaged or broken or a bad person. Mental and physical distress are part of the human condition and can be minimized by living a healthy life with support and self determination. Courage is not the absence of fear, but finding a way to face fear and move forward. Emotions are reactions to the events we experience in life finding a way to experience them by connecting with others is healing. Be an advocate for what helps you feel well.