What this series is about.
Empowerment is a word that covers many meanings. It is used in different contexts but today I’ll focus on empowerment within mental health and recovery. Becoming empowered plays an important role in rehabilitation. That is the process where you discover yourself behind the mask of being an ill person and you realize that every mental challenge presents itself different within the community (for me at least). Step by step I’m finding the pieces of ‘me’ again and I try to compose them into a significant ‘whole’ being. By walking you through the different key factors of becoming empowered as described by J. Chamberlin I hope I can shed some light on the topic. In earlier posts I discussed the importance of taking decisions and the right to be assertive.
In today’s post I’ll continue to discuss other blocks of empowerment, as I find them very helpful to think about (my) recovery. I hope some of the things mentioned can be of help to you too.
Not feeling alone; feeling part of a group.
Mental illness can separate you from your loved ones, your friends, co-workers, neighbors and yourself (depersonalisation). For me a very big part of empowerment and recovery lies in the fact that I’ve found a community here on WP to share my fears, thoughts and worries with without being judged. I’ve read many stories that weren’t that different from mine and I’ve recognized struggles of fellow bloggers. This experience made it easier for me to break through my shell in real life too because I’ve already found words and sentences to pour my feelings into. Strengthened by the positive approach that I’ve learned here, I’m not ashamed anymore to discuss my mental struggles. This renewed energy – which started with my psychiatrist, therapist and boyfriend but is being supported by blogging – helps me to connect further in real life with old and new friends. I don’t feel the odd one out and I do feel connected. Depression took up all of my mental and physical power and made it into a short circuit where now I feel that more energy is available to me through connection with others.
Understanding that people have rights.
When you live with a mental illness, you are a person with a mental illness. Nothing more but surely nothing less. Comparison is the thief of joy. When you compare yourself to others or to how you used to be when you were ‘normal’, you’ll end up feeling not too good about yourself. When I fell ill, I felt incredibly guilty because of the health insurance that I had going on. I thought that others were more deserving of that money. People who are ‘really’ ill. The fact of the matter is that you are a person with rights. You have the right to be happy wherever you are in life. You have the right to address your issues when they pop up. Everyone will go through some shit in their lives, why wouldn’t you have the right to take your time and space to do some healing and to rethink your options with the cards that you are dealt.
What are your thoughts about today’s topic? Do you find those building blocks of empowerment useful? Do they highlight areas you are or were working on? When you are in recovery, how do you look at your processes? Any questions, tips and suggestions are welcome in the comments.
Notes, resources and references.
 Chamberlin and participants decided early in their discussions that empowerment was a complex, multidimensional concept, and that it described a process rather than an event. Therefore, you don’t need to display every quality on the list (for the full list see further readings below) in order to be considered empowered. It is important to know that a working definition is used, precisely to spark further discussion. To read the whole article, click here.