What is recovery?

by Charlotte Fantelli

What is recovery?

At different points in my journey 'recovery' has meant something different. 

At my worst, recovery to me meant being able to sleep for more than an hour at a time. To go a day without a panic attack. To feel alive and not like a shell of a person.

To eat a meal without seeing it as poison. Being able to deal with pain without cutting my body or taking to another's bed. To not feel trapped by invisible walls...

When I was agoraphobic, recovery meant being able to go to a local shop and buy a pint of milk. 

When I was recovered enough to go to a local shop, recovery meant being able to go to a supermarket.

When I dared to dream beyond this, recovery meant being able to hold down a job, socialise, or dare I think, start a family..?

Seven years into my recovery, I have achieved all of the above. I am no longer a shell, but a person who loves life, who embraces all that life has to offer. I get up every morning to a happy marriage. I have a beautiful son that lights up my world. I hold down a full time career, a business and a part-time role also. But am I recovered?

Yes I use gloves to put petrol in my car. I use my sleeve to go through doors. I hand gel every time I touch something someone else may have touched. I hold my breath when I walk past a bin and fear taking my son to school, as in my eyes those lovable class mates are germ ridden snot rockets waiting to infect...

In the eyes of the world I am still 'odd'. But do their eyes matter? Really? If using my sleeve to open a door means I can conquer what is behind it. If having my husband do the school run means I can be a brilliant, chilled out mum that does other things with my son, if using gloves in a petrol station means I can drive hundreds of miles on my own to meetings and presentations without feeling dirty... Their eyes do not matter.

YES I could go through a door without a sleeve. YES I could fill up without gloves. YES I could take my son to school. BUT as a wise man reiterated to me yesterday ONLY if the benefit from doing so outweight the fear/difficulty. And surely it is only for me to judge that?

Do I long for a day that isn't a fight? Yes. Do I wish I could be free from all the little fears that try and screw up my every day? Of course. Do they make me any less of a person? Absolutely bloody not!

I'm proud of where I am, happy with what I've got, and embrace the next stages on my journey of recovery... Because that's what recovery is to me: a journey, not a destination.

Comments

wow... this is an inspiration... i am agoraphobic and suffering from depression with anxiety and i longed to be free from these invisible walls and being trapped in a very complicated maze.. Well i keep on fighting this battle i guess my whole life(since my in my childhood i'm fighting to defeat this extreme shyness). I keep on holding on and every step that i feel like i defeated even the smallest of this monster inside me that's what i call a little steps toward recovery.^_^

Thank you so much for sharing, I am glad you enjoyed the post. Never give up hope, hope gives birth to determination, and determination gives birth to action. Whatever step of your journey you are on believe in yourself and that tomorrow holds the power to be better than today. Thank you again for sharing. 

Charlotte x

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This is brilliant, Charlotte - and very true! We do what we do to get things done. We do what we do to be the Mums our children need. What a fantastic mantra to help get through the day: "their eyes don't matter at all!" :)

Sarah Myles

Thanks Sarah,

What a very good mantra - I will remember that today as I am filming this documentary, fearful of showing my oddities to the world.... :-) 

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Thank you Charlotte so much for sharing this inspirational story. It is so powerful when people who have experienced severe mental distress share their own hard won and unique recovery journeys. We are all 'works in progress' and it's good to see so many people opening up and sharing their understanding. I really like your quote in the comments too.."Never give up hope, hope gives birth to determination, and determination gives birth to action2 It is so true that determination helps us break our paralysis -The other thing about this is that if we are struggling to find hope how important it is to find others who can hold hope for us when things are hard. It is to those who have shown extraordinary compassion when the odds are against us that I also want to thank. So thanks to all those who have had the courage to support others or who have shared their own extraordinary stories of courage and Recovery!

Wow, your comment means so much. Thank you. I needed that today, believe me. I am in the process of sharing my story as part of a documentary and right now I am wondering why? It is hard sometimes to face your flaws and let others see your weakness... But as you have just so rightly pointed out, it is not for ourselves, but for others to get hope through our stories. Thank you x

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