You can recover from your mental illness


By David Joel Miller

Recovery happens – Does that surprise you?

Recovery Happens

Recovery Happens Photo courtesy of Flickr (meggle)

Mental and emotional illnesses are relatively common.

Some of you are denying that you have or could ever get a mental illness. Half the population at some time in their life will have a mental illness. Depression and anxiety problems are the most common but many other emotional problems can throw you for a loss.

Among those who do develop a mental or emotional disorder, the conventional wisdom has been that they are “seriously and persistently” mental ill. The implication, all too often, has been that once you get a mental health diagnosis then life is over for you.

Recovery happens.

The truth is that many people do recover from their mental illness. Some by using professional help and others recover in spite of the obstacles the system puts in the way of recovery.

Before the discovery that medications could help with mental illness the prevailing thought was that the mentally ill were “Crazy” and that once you “lost your mind” it was unlikely you would regain it. This has turned out to be untrue.

Medication can help.

For some, but not all, medication has completely changed the prognosis of mental illness. If a few days on a medication can restore someone to functional behavior then it is clear that having a mental illness is not an incurable condition.

We have also discovered that many of the things we used to consider mental illnesses were the result of a lack of skills. People who did not learn good social skills in childhood find it difficult to have good relationships in adulthood. The good news is that anything you learned incorrectly can be unlearned and that the human brain is never too old and rarely to sick to preclude the chance of learning new material.

The consumer movement emphases recovery.

One other factor has challenged the notion that once mental ill, forever sick. Because of the stigma, the mentally ill have traditionally faced many people hid their diseases. More and more of those who have had a mental ill have come forward to talk openly and honestly about their struggles. This openness is sometimes referred to as the consumer movement.

It has become clear to me and to others that there are many highly functional individuals who have at one point or another in their lives have struggled with a mental, emotional or behavioral illness.

Unfortunately, that discrimination against the mentally ill continues to keep people away from treatment.

In truth, half of all Americans are likely to experience one or more episodes of mental illness in their lifetimes. Those fortunate enough to have a strong support system and willing to seek treatment can and do recover.

Many a tragedy, personal and public, might be averted if more people could be encouraged to go for treatment rather than trying to hide their symptoms and pretend to themselves and others that they were not struggling with a mental health challenge.

Put an end to the lie – let people know – recovery happens.

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

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15 thoughts on “You can recover from your mental illness

  1. I love this post! I am a recovering Schizophrenic. Discrimination and meditation have been the biggest setbacks for me. I have found that I get weird side effects to most of the medications prescribed and that held back my progress more than anything.

    I know I am now on the road to recovery. It is not easy, but so worth it. I love that your blog gives people the hope needed.

    Like

  2. You are right, people can recover from a mental illness and you are never too old to re-train your brain into learning something new. Stigma causes a lot of people to misunderstand mental illness. I struggled with depression all my life, but this never stopped me from having good jobs, taking care of a family and starting my own business. I started taking medications in my late twenties and this helped me cope for over 25 years, but now I am medication free. As a child I was not taught how to overcome my low esteem and build confidence, so I did not have the proper skills needed become a responsible adult. A few years ago, I started researching depression and discovered ways to build my esteem, allowing me to control my depression and see life from a positive instead of a negative perspective. It is very possible to recover if you get the proper support and really want to move ahead in life.

    Like

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  7. Dear Dr. Miller:
    I just posted a reply to a blog you wrote. I am a totally recovered schizophrenic. I haven’t heard of anyone being healed like I was(by God) from the system- is it possible? A better question would be: could you tell us of somebody who you can prove was healed by therapy or meds? If you can, I will surely be surprised, I was in the system 28 years, and never knew one. I was familiar with maybe three thousand patients. Never heard of a cure. In my new circle of Christians, I know of a few who claim to once have been mentally ill. Many of those who claim total sanity could be having it. Of course, I know that “I was healed by God” sounds like, and often is, a symptom of it. Many Look normal to me (the ones who say they were cured, of them 80% probably were). I was. Even have my psychiatrist officially proclaim it, she even admits it was God’s doing. Anyway, look up my reply. I have to admit, you show a little (more than most “psychology people” discernment of truth. Hope you see I do, too. God bless you and keep you. michael
    I know I don’t sound very convincing in this reply. PLease look at my other one. Better yet, look at the website. It is late, I am going to sleep. Hope I see a reply tomorrow.

    Like

    • Hi Michael. I wrote a response above about my struggles with depression. A few years ago I was so severely depressed and suicidal, in and out of hospital, took meds, had counselling but nothing helped.
      At my lowest point, I turned to God for help and within months I had a total transformation, seeing life from a positive perspective instead of a negative one and I was able to stop taking my meds. I rarely feel depressed and have no suicidal thoughts. I love live and I love God.

      I personally know several other people that have been totally healed from mental illnesses because of their strong faith and I have read numerous books and articles about lives that have been changed. Yet I haven’t really come across anything on people who have been healed by meds or therapy. When I was in recovery, I worked with a support group and I met several people on meds, some were also in therapy, but I didn’t see any of them changing very much. A few have become close friends and they are still in the same place they were a few years ago. The only ones who changed were the ones who connected with God yet people are so reluctant to believe.

      I think that some people have a chemical imbalance that requires them to take meds but many people could probably do much better if they would just ask God to help control their negative thinking. It is wonderful that you have been healed! Praise God!.

      Like

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