Hope and Recovery

"Recovery is being able to live a meaningful and satisfying life, as defined by each person, in the presence or absence of symptoms. It is about having control over and input into your own life. Each individual's recovery, like his or her experience of the mental health problems or illness, is a unique and deeply personal process." (Scottish Recovery Network)


is a simple yet powerful vision. It is a journey not a cure.


is a process of readjusting our attitudes, feelings, perceptions, and beliefs about ourself, others, and life in general. It is also a process of self-discovery, self-renewal, and transformation.


is a process all people experience at some level, at various times in their life. It is painful and difficult and takes time.

We are beginning to understand the development of the sense of self-recovery from mental illness (Davidson & Strauss, 1992). This new awareness has given more hope to people with a psychiatric disability. Most longitudinal outcome studies indicate that a significant number of people with severe mental illness are able to lead normal lives (Harding, Brooks, Takamaru, Strauss & Brier, 1987a, 1987b; Harding, et al. 1987; Lin & Kleinman, 1988; McGlashan, 1988).

The idea of self-recovery and how to facilitate it is being widely explored.

Phases of the Recovery Process


The experience is often confusing and disorganizing. The implications of the illness are devastating to our life, hopes, and dreams. They are too much to grasp.


It is often the first response to the onset of mental illness. Denial serves to cushion the shock of the illness. Another type of denial that is often more deliberate is the denial that comes from fear of stigma-fear of the responses of friends, society, or the helping system. This can lead to keeping the experience to themselves as a way of coping.


Depression is a common reaction to the experience of mental illness and often leads to despair. If there is support in the despair phase by other consumers, friends, and professionals; the door to the grieving process, to the healing of the loss, and then to the development of hope, opens.


It is a necessary and important part of the process. Anger is a stimulus to recovery. It is normal and natural. Slowly, the realization that the anger comes from strength, a sense of what is right and wrong, a sense of what needs to change, and not from the illness.


These are outcomes from despair and grieving and is helped along by the presence of at least one person. It is a process that builds gradually, and that is often fragile.


This is learning to live with who you are and what you have to offer the world. Coping is built on acceptance. Acceptance means that there is nothing that you need to do or should do, only what you want to do and are able to do the best way you can.


This process is exciting and energizing. The illness may continue, but you have changed. You begin to think, feel, and act in your own interest with more confidence and compentency.

Toward Recovery & Well-Being