The end goal is not recovery

If you conceptualise mental health and recovery as things that are inexorably linked- assuming, straight off the bat, that recovery is a universally achievable goal for people with mental health issues, you have a problem. The problem is this: recovery for some people is never going to happen. Some people are never going to not suffer the symptoms of mental illness. And that’s ok.

That is ok because the end goal isn’t recovery, it’s living a life that is satisfying, or challenging, or safe. The goal is fulfillment, in whatever way that means to you.

A measure of how fulfilled your life is is not how well you fit into a specific mould of NOT ILL. It’s how well you feel you are doing at the things that matter to you, and how you work towards doing these things. Each person’s life, each person’s needs, desires, wants, fleeting fancies, are different. What fulfills me one day (doing homework, talking to friends, doing my nails) may not be so great the next day, when I have a different focus (for example, seeing my friends is always great, but if I’ve been wanting to see my family or need to do some work then even though it’s fun, I should probably see my friends another day.)

The final goal is also not happiness. Happiness isn’t a goal, it cannot be a goal, because it is an emotion. It will always go away, and come back, and generally be very flighty and unreliable. The goal is to be in a place where unhappiness isn’t devastating. Where unhappiness is surmountable, dealable.

The final goal is not health. Health as a goal is unachievable; it is a state that you work towards, not a final checkpoint. Everybody’s health is different, and everybody has different ways of relating to and dealing with their own health.

Getting to a place where you can manage your own mental health is hard, yes. It requires work, it requires commitment, it requires facing up to things it would be far easier to ignore.

But understanding your own mental health is the first step. It is the difference between not leaving your room even though you want to do things outside but can’t, and not leaving your room because you’re doing things inside today that are totally awesome.

Recovery is not the end goal, because mentally ill people are not a monolith. What toyou may be stagnation, stalling, stuntedness, may and will be for others the most fulfilling, enriched way they can exist, working towards developing the best them that they can imagine.

And that is not a problem.

[on tumblr]

On Self Care

Self care was a revolutionary concept for me.

It threw my world sideways to realise that not only was it good to spend time looking after myself, but necessary. That giving myself space to do things for myself was ok; was important even.

I first found out about self care on tumblr, and it truly changed the way I approached my life and my mental illness.

It also missed out a few things, a few vital things.

Self care is hard. It is hard work. Some days, you aren’t going to be able to practice self care completely, because self care is about doing things to improve your quality of life. It’s about doing the things you need to do, not just the things you want to.

Some days (most days) I want to stay in bed. Some days that’s ok. Some days letting myself do what I want is directly detrimental to my quality of life, directly detrimental to my health and my mood.

Self care is taking the bin out. It’s painting my nails. It’s taking a shower. It’s taking photos of myself and being vain as fuck. It’s making myself not stay in the same clothes for days on end. It’s not giving myself a hard time for doing ‘time wasting’ activities that make me feel happy. It’s being very aware of what and how I’m eating. It’s (attempting) to let people know how I’m feeling. It’s working on the boring but necessary things. It’s (attempting) to ask for the things I need from other people. It’s setting boundaries. It’s going to sleep earlier than three am.

It’s acknowledging that a lot of the above will not always get done, and that’s ok. So long as it does get done eventually and as often as possible.

Self care is knowing yourself and being honest with yourself. It’s about looking at the kind of life you want to have and person you want to be and working toward that, within whatever restrictions you have to navigate. It is not homogenous; many of the things I’ve listed above would be seriously detrimental to the quality of life of some people.

There are many things, also, that self care is not.

Self care is not doing whatever you want with no regard for the consequences.

It is not doing what I want, when I want, with no regard for other people. It is not letting abusive patterns develop in my relationships because I need/want things from people. It is not demanding attention, or time, or anything from others with no regards for their own space and boundaries.

Self care is important. But you need to be honest. You need to communicate, with others and yourself.

The over-simplification of self care can lead to abusive patterns. Enforcing your boundaries doesn’t just mean no-one crossing them; you have to let them know what those boundaries are first. Getting angry at people for not reading your mind and thus hurting you is not self care, it is an abusive behaviour. Using manipulation to get people to pay attention to you is an abusive action. Ask for attention, don’t force it out of people. Self care is knowing what you need from other people and communicating that, not attacking those who can’t provide what you didn’t ask for.

You’re not looking after yourself when you do this, you’re being an asshole.

[on tumblr]