Vive la différence! Shift Happens!

My work makes me lucky. I get up every morning knowing I will have the opportunity that day, to walk beside someone who is trying very hard to make changes in their lives, often making the world around them, a better place to be.

There is still so much fear around mental health; my cheeriness about my work often surprises. “Don’t you hear a lot of sad stories?’’ My reply usually goes something like this this:

Every day I am inspired by the strength of spirit I witness. Hope is my oxygen and the people who offer me the great privilege of sharing their experiences lead me to be all the more hopeful.

Over the last few years I have realized that in many ways I lead an insular life. I surround myself with folks who have come to see mental distress as simply a part of life, who know that when we face our difficulties, we find we have strength we never knew possible.

It is an exciting time to be in mental health; we now know that most people can and do recover, in terms of clinical symptoms and we know more about what seems to help people recover their lives; decent housing, a good wage at a job they enjoy, a sense of belonging and of self-determination.

Recovery is not just about managing or reducing symptoms, although developing strategies to cope can be essential.

What we are beginning to understand is that if we really want to facilitate Recovery, mental health services need to be developed more the around idea of people being defined by their values, dreams, and sense of purpose, not by their experiences of distress.

Having a variety of options for treatment, determining our own goals towards recovery, accessible peer support, and recognizing the expertise of personal experiences of mental illness are vital.

Mental health struggles can hit “like a Mack truck” or they can come on like a low hum over many years; whatever the way they develop or the forms they takes in our life, we can feel forever changed. Some of what we took for granted before becomes bitter sweet.

We may wonder if we will ever feel OK again, if we will ever think about our future with excitement, or even just be glad it is a new day. We are certain we have let people down, and we wonder if we can still be lovable.

We want to understand what has happened to us. We need to know what we can do about it.

We need to know that there is at least one person to turn to; someone we know won’t judge us.

We need to be able to connect with others who have experienced some of the same things and have gone on to find a sense of well-being.

Without directly addressing that recovery from mental distress involves developing hopefulness, the shock, the stigma, and the isolation that can result, can be the biggest barriers of all to recovery.

It is an honour to be part of these Recovery Talks along with Janina and Carol. Now I can’t wait to hear what you have to say…

In the meantime this is a video I like

Linda Lee Ross
Social Worker
Eating Disorder Program

Tagged as .

Posted in distress, hope, mental health services, stigma, symptoms, treatment.

Posted on 24 Sep 2012, by Linda Lee Ross

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


3 comments to Vive la différence! Shift Happens!

  1. Keith Beange
    On Sep 24th 2012 at 12:26

    Wonderful article. Those who know you are likewise lucky people.

  2. Kara
    On Sep 27th 2012 at 21:28

    The road to recovery is indeed a joyful, albeit a sometimes hard one. The best parts of recovery, I found, is to be able to look yourself in the mirror and be happy with what you see. Not because what you see is wonderful by “society’s” standards, but because what you see is a reflection of how you feel on the inside. Believing in your own worth, your own value, believing that you matter. Having faith in yourself, just because you do. What an amazing feeling.
    I can thank my therapist who is always there for me, and who is my guide on my road to recovery, simply by helping me realize all the potential I have, but never knew I had.
    Thanks for starting this blog!

  3. Eva
    On Oct 18th 2012 at 05:31

    I feel so very fortunate Linda-Lee to have you as a ‘Cheery Sun”, shinining on me, I feel hopeful. Thank you for sharing this blog with me.