After any major physical "insult," as they call it, it's all too easy to see yourself as a collection of symptoms rather than as a total human being, including your spirit -- and thus to become your illness. Fear is powerful and contagious.
At first I allowed myself to catch it, worried that if I didn't do what the doctors ordered, I'd be sorry. But now I'm learning to take my healing into my own hands. Healing, after all, is not the same as curing; healing does not mean going back to the way things were before, but rather allowing "what is now".
~ Ram Dass
My personal definition of recovery is based on two essential elements:
That's it. That's my definition. Note that I don't care who your support team is made up of. It can be a counselor, a therapist, your cyber chums, a psychologist, the cashier at the corner store, your god, your guru, your mother, your father, a psychiatrist, your bartender, a shaman, a religious or spiritual leader, a friend, your hairdresser, whatever. What matters is that they are the people you identify as helping you, they respect you, and if you're very fortunate, they love you. Often, we want those we're closest to -- our spouses, our families -- to be part of our support team. Sometimes they are, and sometimes they're not capable of it because they have been impacted by our experiences too. Depending on the individual circumstances, they may need their own support team.
Recovery is a process, and it's typically a lengthy one. My own recovery began with my experience of psychosis -- what I sometimes refer to as "The Story". Once that was done, it started with sleeping sixteen to twenty hours a day for about three weeks. That was followed by a honeymoon period of several weeks when I tried to reassure those around me that I was "okay" now. During that phase I quit smoking, I quit drinking, I felt very positive and upbeat. I very much wanted to believe that I was done, but I wasn't.
The honeymoon period was followed by a very, very dark phase of many months because at that point I was actually dealing with the trauma of having fallen apart in the first place, along with the content the experience had brought up. That's one thing I discovered -- everything that comes up is coming up for a reason. Everything is a piece of your personal puzzle and you have to figure out how the pieces fit and relate to one another so you can put yourself back together.
A few things were absolutely vital to my own recovery process:
In regard to my own experience I'm glad I wasn't medicated. I don't think it would have helped me because I think it would have suppressed the emerging content, and that content would have kept trying to break out via repeated episodes. That said, I am a proponent of informed consent: you are entitled to know the benefits and full risks of your medication, whether it's absolutely necessary, whether a less expensive or alternative option is available, etc. For anyone who finds medication to be personally helpful, I would urge you to do your own research and make your own best choices.
It's now May, 2006. Am I recovered? I would say that yes, I am. For the most part, I understand what happened to me and why it happened. I can speak of those events now -- I couldn't before, although I do so very selectively. I am still exploring the spiritual aspects of my experience and likely will for a very long time to come.
Those around me would also agree that I have gotten much better and continue to do so. But I'm also different now too. Some of the people around me have had difficulty accepting that, as have I, at times. I'm not the same person now as I was then.
Then again, none of us are.
Music of the Hour: Change
Spiritual Emergency, Shamanism, Mysticism, Gnosticism, Alchemy, Schizophrenia, Psychosis, PTSD, The Hero's Journey, Spiritual Awakening, Ego Death, The Dark Night of the Soul, Kundalini Awakening, Psychiatry, The Medical Model, The Recovery Model, Recovery from Schizophrenia