Recovery means different things to different people. For some it means no longer needing medication, for others, including myself it means being able to do the things your illness prevented you doing before and some people don’t believe in the word recovery. These are all valid points, but something I believe is recovery is different for everyone.
There was a time when I believed I would never recover. I would never feel happy again, enjoy life and I certainly couldn’t picture a future without daily anxiety. But here I am living, loving and happy.
I have been asked many times “how did you get better?” For me it was a combination of therapy (CBT and counselling), medication and online peer support. One alone wouldn’t have been enough for me but together this became a framework of support and lead me to feeling well again. BUT – just because that’s what worked for me doesn’t mean it will work for another. Everyone Is different, we all have individual needs and its trial and error in finding what works best in supporting our own recovery.
Medication is something I’ve spoken about before, and I’m a believer that it can be an important tool in getting better. Alone I don’t think it would have been enough for me; I felt medication (the antidepressant citalopram) was something which helped clear the fog in my brain so I could concentrate and get the best from my therapy. After my third baby I was prescribed it for a second time and advised to continue taking it until she was 2, to be honest I didn’t mind how long I took it. Recently, with guidance from my GP, I started weaning my medication and by summer I will most likely not take them anymore. However, if at any moment I feel I’m not ready to stop taking them or I notice my mood declining I will continue to take them- and that’s okay.
For me, recovery isn’t about whether I still take medication. When I was really unwell, I couldn’t leave my home, panic attacks and anxiety prevented me. I lived in fear 24/7, I was anxious about everything, I struggled with intrusive thoughts which restricted my life. I was so depressed I felt the only way out was to end my life. I’m free of these feelings now, sure I experience anxiety like many others, but it doesn’t prevent me from doing anything. I have a tool kit of techniques which help me manage something which, on reflection, I have probably suffered from since I was a teenager.
Recovery is individual, and I respect that. We all have our own journey to take, but we should always remain hopeful. Things can improve, believe me. Speak to others, talk with healthcare professionals and make use of the local services around you. Find local peer support, join online support such as ‘PND and Me’ – speaking with others who understand can make a huge difference. Your road to recovery is individual to you, but it is not one you need to walk alone.