Shoreline of Recovery

Category: Opinion Pieces Publsihed Online Published: Monday, 29 October 2018 Written by Richard J Bell

Shoreline of Recovery - Part 1


There are oceans of people who have a mental illness out there where there is no cure from, but still these people can reach a recovery. The definition of recovery has changed to: living a relatively normal life on medication, regardless of having symptoms can be seen as a successful recovery. Sometimes the tentacles of the illness can pull you down, restricting you from swimming towards the shoreline of recovery. Although you can break free from the grasp by creating small achievements towards a healthier self-image that will help you see the beach. For some, it can take several years to make the journey safely to solid ground. But the tides can change and drag you back into the depths of a relapse, making you worse off than before. But with no cure for any mental illness waves can knock you down on your journey towards recovery. But even so, the achievements can make a world of difference.

While in the tentacles of mental illness the escape can be seen as hopeless. It can drag you under, into the depths of where you think there is no return. It can come though and wash all your life plans away, while having a firm grip, pulling you deeper into the illness so that you lose sight of your hopes and dreams. Distorting what you see of reality until your illness becomes everything and you lose sight of what you had planned for life. Your vision is filled with the mouth of the sea-monster that is mental illness.

From personal experience I have encountered the vision of hopelessness that is schizophrenia and depression where I could not see anything other than my illness. I could not see the separation of the illness and the person as a whole. It wasn’t until medication started taking away more and more of the symptoms did I realise there are many parts to a person and an illness does not define who a person is. Blinded by the illness, I wasn’t making plans for the future and lost motivation, dreams and hopes I had for life. Suddenly my goals of university and career plans went sideways as I lost what I had planned for my life.

But the definition of recovery in terms of mental illness is to make small achievements to create a healthier self-image through things that interest the individual and management of the illness to break free of the sea-monster that is dragging you so deep. The small achievements can mean just a relatively normal routine to manage daily life. Gradually as you build on these achievements you’ll break free of the grasp of tentacles, and the more you continue, the easier it would be to swim freely of the illness and see the shoreline of recovery.


Shoreline of Recovery - Part Two


When I had depression in late 2006, I was lying in bed for ten to twelve hours a day and started writing poetry about what I was experiencing to giving me a form of expression. Writing poetry got me doing something I enjoyed, and eventually got me out of bed. I even started walking for exercise as part of a daily routine, which built into managing a lifestyle regardless of my illness. Even though there were medication changes in the future I was still breaking free of the illness and doing the opposite to what the symptoms were.

However the tides can change while trying to reach recovery and pull you back into the creature of mental illness, taking a hold of you down into a relapse, where you become more unwell than you were previously. With no cure for mental illness, relapses can always lurk in the waters but the more you can manage the illness and stay away from stressful situations the more you can keep it at bay.

In 2007 I was studying in Wollongong TAFE in the Hospitality Management Diploma. I was travelling 50 kilometres to Wollongong from my home and 50 kilometres in the return trip and studying four days a week. I managed achieving one distinction, nine credits and sixteen passes in the first year. But because I didn’t know how to manage the stress of studying, travel and therapy by the time my second year came around in 2008 I fell into a hospital stay for nine weeks, and because of a medicine change ended up having a relapse where instead hearing voices from the point I woke to the point I went to sleep I was talking to myself from the point I woke to the point I slept. If only I had stayed away from the stressful situation or learnt to manage my stress earlier, it would have not resulted in a prolonged hospital stay or a relapse.

Still caught in the tentacles of the mental illness, it can take a while to recover from a relapse. I became more unwell than I ever was since before 2003, when I started hallucinating from when I woke to the point I slept. But treading water in the ocean was not the answer to creating a healthier self; it had to be creating achievements and goals towards a regular routine that will see me as getting back to wellness.


Shoreline of Recovery - Part Three

It took me another three years on medication to return back to a level of health that I felt before the relapse, then another year passed and it had grown into feeling better than I ever felt in my life. All the while I was doing poetry, writing articles and giving mental health speeches at universities and workplace training as part of my mental health advocacy.

For some the journey to the shore can take several years to achieve a recovery. They can be taken down on waves and washed up upon rocks towards their journey. But given the right health professionals and treatment you can make it to the shore to re-build your life. Regardless if you are diagnosed as treatment-resistant you can still create a meaningful and fulfilled life.

It’s taken me almost ten years to reach the point I am at now. I volunteer as a Mental Health Educator doing speeches at universities and workplace training and have been since 2007. I’ve been published as Auto-Biographical Contemporary Free-Verse Poet over 20 in print media and 20 times online. I write articles and had them published in journals and mental health blogs since 2011; and planning on studying to continue my advocacy. I believe my achievements to reach a healthier self-image have helped towards recovery in mental health terms.

Even though there is no cure for a mental illness, people can still reach recovery in terms of living a relatively normal life despite being diagnosed as treatment-resistant. It may take several years to reach the beach but creating those achievements can help you with a healthier image of ones self and will eventually lead you to a routine that will manage your illness as well as medicine. Even though people can relapse and have prolong stays in hospital still is possible to live a normal lifestyle the diagnoses is treatment resistant. The sea-monster of mental illness may always be there but, learning how to manage the illness will keep you on the shores of recovery.

Richard Bell © 10th July 2014



Published Online at Mindshare Mental Health South Australian based website 2015


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