My road to recovery.

Let’s talk about recovery. What is it and how does it show in your day-to-day life. Because I feel like that is what it is, a constant trying to keep balance and to make progress without that being the utter and only goal. I need to have goals and I need to watch how many stress I take on board. That would be exercise number one for me, to keep that balance.

Note: Further reads are indicated with a * and you find them all at the end of the post.

What I used to do was to write down a ‘to-do list’ for the day or to find a ‘bigger’ goal (like going to the fitness twice a week, yoga class once a week, cleaning my whole house and so on) and just work ‘till I reached that goal. I would try to reach my goal faster and to become better at it. There was always room for improvement and sometimes I lost track of fun in the process. I decided that ‘Lists can’t make me happy’*. So with recovery another method needed to be implemented. I researched theories about recovery and found out that there are five domains that are taken into consideration. The first one was to manage your symptoms, to learn to recognize them and to make an action plan. I wrote about this in ‘Is depression always around and why does it play hide and seek?’*

I intend to return to those domains from time to time to evaluate how am I doing. I still like to have goals for myself but they became more flexible with time. I wrote ‘When talking about recovery, what are we talking about?’* which explains the 5 domains more in-depth on the 10th of March. So I’ll reflect over a period of about 3 months now. As recovery is such a broad term and I generally feel ‘better’ it’s difficult to notice some of the changes because they flow through everyday life. Some seems small from the outside but mean a world of difference to me and some are really a big step and I just don’t notice. Hence this post.


1 Managing symptoms. I keep on working with my thoughts, I correct them when I notice thinking errors and I became better in stepping out of rumination* mode. Having some energy to take action helps tremendously. And so we arrived at my biggest symptom that I encounter -but not welcome- every day, fatigue*. Bad brain days, trouble concentrating and remembering remain also but it becomes better very gradually. My doctor told me that cognitive impairments recover the last. In terms of fatigue I’m better at recognizing it before I’m totally depleted of energy. I try to manage my appointments in a way that is do-able for me. Sometimes this can’t be done. I have a low tolerance for stress and when something occurs I can go into true panic mode. Sometimes over what may seem relatively small like using public transport. Although COVID plays a role here as it not totally chill these days.

2. Functional recovery refers to participation in everyday and valued social roles which are often taken for granted by people who have not experienced mental illness. Since March things happened. Besides lockdown and COVID-19 worries, I’ve done things believe it or not.  I’ve moved in with Pierre. A huge step for me which came with needed adaption time. I do participate more in ‘normal’ activities like cooking, doing dishes and laundry. Those are the things I like to do in the house and keep me going on a daily/weekly basis. Although I’m not able to cook from scratch every day, I’ve come a long way since eating sweet potato wedges* every day.

3. Physical recovery. I feel that this segment is the one that I am working the most on currently. As I started out to research self-care* and self-compassion*, I try to keep that focus. I notice that I do have the tendency to do everything else before attending to my needs. But I’m better in turning this around, I keep on searching to find my space and balance.

In terms of basic hygiene I’m capable of taking a bad or shower more often. Maybe not every day but every 3 to 4 days. I brush my teeth (almost daily) and my hairdresser came to give me a new haircut. I went to the dentist to obtain a mouth guard, which helps me sleep more relaxed and stops clenching my teeth. Waking up early is still present and sometimes I do struggle with shortage of sleep and feeling too tense to sleep.

Living together also means that I (almost) don’t skip meals anymore because I don’t need to think about that. I eat when Pierre is hungry. Easy! Downside to this is that I gained a few kilos (!). I try not to worry too much about it as I don’t have the energy to do that.

On the 16th of May we welcomed Churro, our new family member. He makes me smile and I love taking care of him and teaching him new things. He helps me tremendously with recovery in the physical area. The first week he needed to get to know his new home and we were told by the adoption agency that he shouldn’t go out for a walk, so we played in the garden. After 7 days we made our way out. First with Pierre but after a week I went out alone (!) for the first time in my new village. I managed to do a 40’ walk and was exhausted for 2 days. Now I can do an hour walk and I aim for 3 times a week (this doesn’t always play out as I want it to do). In the weekends we go with Pierre and the other days I make smaller walks. Some days do occur when I can’t put one foot in front of the other and Pierre takes over his walks then.

I managed to start reading and I enjoy it a lot. And because of this I feel like I can beat anhedonia* a little, which I know it’s not completely true but reading is a big tool in my toolbox of living with mental illness. To be able to concentrate sometimes without worries bouncing around in my head or my Inner Critic* interfering is a wonderful gift. I value it a lot, it is a big stepping stone for me.

4. Social recovery. This is still a contained domain when we speak in terms of real life. I’ve found a loving community in the blogging world. I was welcomed without judgement and I don’t feel like the odd one out. I’ve found a lot of common ground with fellow bloggers struggling with same kind of things or totally other things. I’ve learned a lot doing research for my blog. I’m very proud of that. Now I feel like the cards are dealt differently. I feel guilty because I’m feeling better and some of my friends don’t. I feel like a sell out blogging about depression while I’m not in that black hole where I was a year ago. I feel like I’m betraying them. So in terms of blogging it doesn’t go that smoothly.

In real life it’s not that smooth either. Due to lockdown and social distancing with all its regulations, social traffic became complicated. My friends live scattered around the country, public transportation isn’t recommended and fun shopping, eating out and dancing are the activities me and my friends like to do. We usually enjoy being together and talk but somehow we need that excuses of be doing ‘something’.

Living much much closer to Pierre’s  family I feel more of a bond with my in-laws who are really the sweetest people ever! I do visit my parents-in-law more often because of Churro. He needs to learn ‘to play nice’ with Pepper; their very big Labrador and Churro isn’t keen on doing that. So we need to introduce them to each other as much as possible. Of course I see Pierre every day too!

5. Existential recovery. ‘To find meaning and purpose through different means as employment and social relationships’, says the definition. I feel that I’m building myself up again from the debris that is left at the moment. Some time ago I was sad when I looked around and all I could see were broken pieces of me. I wanted to mend ‘me’, to make ‘me’ whole again. Somehow I managed to have a closer look at the debris, to look behind the sadness. I discovered some larger pieces! Pieces that are easier to work with. I’ve learned about Kintsugi, what is ‘the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise[1]. This is the road I want to travel.

Kintugi

As I typed this all down, I felt a sense of accomplishment. I’m proud of me and actually astonished about all the steps I took already. It gives me hope*.


Are you in recovery too? Do you struggle too find some kind of overview or how do you keep track of your progress? Do you find those five domains helpful to get a better understanding of where you are? Do you use another model or method? What do you think about recovery in general? Tell me what you think in the comments, I read them all!


For clarification and broader context I would like to add that I fell ill in the summer of 2018, was diagnosed with depression in spring of 2019 and have been on medication since.


Further reads*, notes and references.

1. When talking about recovery what are we talking about?

2. Why lists won’t make you happy.

3. Is depression always around and why does it play hide and seek?

4. On goals and flexibility: Why perfectionists become depressed.

5. Bits of Psychology: Rumination and rumination and its consequences.

6. Why Am I tired? On depression and fatigue.

7. Easy recipes for difficult days; sweet potato wedges.

8. What is self-care?

9. Practical self-compassion.

10. The monster under your bed or what are those voices in your head? How to defeat your Inner Critic.

11. Anhedonia, the worst for me.

12. Is there hope for depression?

13. Some kind of book review: The Solitude of The Prime Numbers.


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kintsugi

Picture 1 credits click here.

35 thoughts on “My road to recovery.

  1. When you said “sell-out”, my ears pricked up, because that is one of the thoughts I feel.
    First, really, because I started to blog with one central theme, and now it (the blog) is all over the place. That’s why I changed the name, I felt like I was almost selling myself as something that I am not (any more). But I can’t regret that, because it shows improvement. I can’t feel guilty because I’ve recovered more, maybe, than other people, in fact, I am just happy that I have recovered enough to try and help them.
    I also feel a bit of a fraud from another, totally opposite, perspective. Online, I can have a perfectly civil and rational conversation with somebody, I can write coherent posts, I might even appear vaguely on top of everything. This “online” persona is probably not something that extends to real life! But again, what do you do? You’re hardly going to dumb yourself down, are you? But I’m aware that there is a little dirparity there.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. What an interesting comment Pete! As for the name of my blog, I started to blog with a clear view of what it would be, some food for thoughts. I thought I would be more blogging about food but I explored other venues. Now I’m searching how to broaden that view, to reflate again. I don’t want to get stuck in blogging, I mean it is supposed to help me and not to bring me down.
      I guess those ‘struggles’ can be reflective of a change or shift in identity. When you don’t feel like you are the illness anymore. From StrokeSurvivor to Mr Bump is a beautiful metaphor for this.
      I can’t hold myself back that is the truth but sometimes I got lost in the other perspective, the one of dreaming. ‘I wish I was like normal ‘me’ again’ and I start to write from that. Then I ‘bump’ into my limitations.
      I think you’re very right in your last point. I mean blogging and being able to write a good post is a good quality and a talent. But it doesn’t mean automatically that all in life goes so easily as well. It is this tension I also feel between past, present and future. I a way that is a good thing because it keeps me in touch with the process and that was the reason why I started blogging, that and just to write down all the things that took too much space in my head.
      I guess we only can keep on growing as a human being and keep on searching.
      To be recovered enough to help someone else – but also myself – is a good goal to have.
      Thank you for your well thought out (?) comment 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Sorry, I wanted to reply to this last night but we had our first visitor around since March (it was a lovely evening and we all sat outside and drank gin!)! I was just going to say, we don’t really think about it when we’re well, because every day is a good day. But by definition, we only ever see bloggers on their good days, for if it is a bad day, presumably, people will not come near the computer. I’m sure there is a lot with all of us that goes on behind the scenes. It’s kind of a “win” for someone even to be on here.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. We had nuts & chips as snacks, so my sugar was a bit high the next day. I assume that’s what it was anyhow. It is interesting because there is a whole new aspect of discussion – anxiety surrounding covid. We are a lot more relaxed, I think, than our friend.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. Interesting post. I’m a lot better than I used to be, but I still have low energy and only do about half the things in a day that I would like to do. Also, I have low mood at times, particularly in the mornings, and anhedonia. I worry a lot about the future, as my recovery seems to have plateaued and I can’t see myself working full-time or building the relationships that I want. It’s possible that I need clearer goals, although I’m not sure what they would be at the moment.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can be in doubt about goals, most of the time mine are not realistic and I end up disappointing myself. I find it hard to see what is possible for me and what is not (anymore).
      I try to accept things as they come, unfortunately I’m not that good at it (yet!).
      Living with symptoms isn’t easy, they are just always there!
      I worked full-time, then part-time and now I don’t. I really wonder how to take that step and when and what would be an attainable goal in job search. I wonder where my abilities lie and where the illness takes over. I hope for found out one day.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I think I also set unrealistic goals. I’ve been depressed for twenty years, on and off, but I still don’t think I’ve accepted the impact it has had on me.

        I am looking for part-time work, but sometimes I wonder if I could even manage that.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I also think you’ve accomplished a lot! And pets are great for getting an extra activation push. I’m not really trying to build up, just because of where I’m at with the illness, but I’m trying to build laterally, I guess.

    Peanut is hanging out with me at the moment, and he says hi to Churro. xo

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Lateral expansion is also an option! For me it feels not so goal driven and more relaxed. So I was quite surprised where I ended up in this short amount of time. But it also shows in my mood sometimes and sleeping, that can be wonky at times! Thank you for your compliment 🤗
      With Churro I feed him, comb him, play fetch (he doesn’t get the whole game!), raise him a bit, go to the vet … and that gives me also a good feeling although I myself can’t walk him enough all by myself and I need my support system there.
      But overall I also try to read different kind of books and so on. Just to broaden a little bit of my world. I’m a fan of building laterally, unfortunately this also comes true in my body weight! 😆
      Churro is chillin’ and catching flies. He sends big hugs to Peanut!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I followed that model of recovery to give me something to hold on too and to have a bit of an overview. When you read it like that, it sounds very nice of course but a lot of those things I’ve thought through, talked about in therapy and so on. For example, we now moved in together but Pierre and I are together since 2013, so we took our time. It is a bit compressed in one post.
      I reflected on what is happening now, looked back through my posts and found some things that made me proud. I doubt that my recovery will be always so steep and there will be so many ‘nice’ things to tell. I was lucky not to have too many bumps in the road for 3 months now but I’m sure they will come too. No one is immune to those bumps in the road! And I don’t think we can work on all those points at the same time, we will go into burnout!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Your blogs have always been a source of strength and knowledge for me and it’s clearly part of your healing process. Now, Churro is part of it. I didn’t like dogs most of my life…now we have four. While they can be real pains in the butt, I know that they bring my life a balance and purpose that I couldn’t achieve any other way, or with any other animal. Maybe a monkey, but I don’t think they allow those in my neighborhood.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. They can be such a pain in the butt! And it’s really hard work, especially now in the beginning when he has to learn everything.
      But dogs are good for overall health, for me at least. I think it’s the part when they (seem to) listen but don’t respond that can be so attractive.
      I’m happy to read that you find so much meaning in my posts. I want to share what I’ve found out because at the beginning I didn’t find much helpful info (before I came across WP that is). But I also write for myself, to have some markers in my process as mental illness can make it one big blur sometimes.
      Speaking of monkeys, have you ever seen the encounter between a monkey (Coco I believe) and Robin Williams? I may even have been you who pointed me to that clip. It’s so wonderful!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. 🤣🤣🤣
        Excellent choice for Halloween: a poop flinging monkey!
        And very true, animals get away with so many things we can’t do! I need to walk my dog so he can pee anywhere and I need to rush home when I need to go, I mean, that is just absurd!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much! I once saw Kintsugi passing me by online or Pinterest and it always stuck with me.
      No matter how I mess up, I can mend things and make them even more beautiful by adding my experience.
      I once wrote a heartfelt apology after a big fight with my best friend, asking to be friends again and I used the same concept. Although life makes it difficult sometimes (covid and so on) we’re still in touch. I blame it on Kintsugi 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is such an informative post! I can relate to what you’re going through. These 5 domains are helpful. The things you experience, I do as well. Everyday is a new day. I’m so fortunate to have support and have found tremendous support and camaraderie here in the blogging community. PS~I’m proud of you.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. You’re coming on in leaps and bounds Kacha and it looks like those domains have been very helpful. And it’s great that you’re feeling the love and belonging in the blogging community — you’ll always be a friend and it doesn’t matter if you change what you write about on your blog, the bonds between us all will remain.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. It’s wonderful to see how much you’ve accomplished lately!

    I know what you mean about lists. I used to try to use to-do lists, but somehow I always lost them or I worked so hard trying to come up with everything I needed to do that by the time I finished the list, I was too tired to do the things on it. I’ve found that flexible internal goals are easier to accomplish and that makes them more rewarding.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your encouragement! I’m proud too of me 🙂
      I recognize all energy going into making the actual list and when it’s finished, I’m so overwhelmed by all the things I *need* to do, that it’s already game over.
      Losing the list isn’t a bad solution though, I guess it can mean it wasn’t necessary after all 🙂
      Internal and flexible goals hold more joy 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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