by Kate Fitch

I read this article today that talked about how stigma impacts the way we talk about our personal stories. How people often talk about their mental health struggles in the past tense, and rarely mention current struggles in their recovery. We all know that recovery is not a linear process, and that there is a lot of co-existing with symptoms in successful recovery, so why don’t we talk about what’s currently going on?

I think part of it, yes, is stigma. Sometimes people aren’t understanding of the fact that I still have symptoms even in recovery, and jump to the conclusion that I’m “on the edge” or something. But I think another part of it is an effort to make recovery more attractive to those who aren’t there yet. And, honestly, I think that’s unfair. We should be honest about the realities of being in recovery.

Recovery isn’t perfect. It isn’t all rainbows and sunshine. Sometimes I have suicidal ideation, sometimes I use cookies and self-harm instead of CBT skills, sometimes I cry a whole day and I can’t figure out why. But recovery is about learning to stop those processes in their tracks. It’s rolling with the punches and coming out the other side feeling confident that things are going to be okay. It’s about knowing the real, immediate things I can DO to keep me from getting into that pre-recovery dark place. It’s about developing and strengthening skills to help me live through those experiences, and using those skills to change course if things continue going downhill. It’s about being self-aware enough to know when I need help, and comfortable enough with people in my life to ask for it.

Sure, it’s not perfect. But it’s a whole lot better than feeling hopeless and lost, like I did before I recovered. Knowing what to do, where to go, and who to talk to is what defines recovery for me, not absence of symptoms.

Stigma and Our Personal Stories

Kate Fitch

I've been with the Network since 2015, when I started as a volunteer. I've been on staff as the Communications Specialist since January 2017. I'm currently in college and pursuing a dual BA in Public Health and Public Administration. I'm most passionate about making sure that people with mental health conditions are fairly represented in the media, at policy tables, and in treatment system planning. In my spare time, I like to crochet, knit, and be the best cat mom ever.

See all posts by kate