A good philosopher starts with defining a concept. I am a good philosopher, so I know that every human has their own definition of any concept, and, whilst we can agree to a fixed definition when we want to use a concept for a specific purpose and we need a solid foundation to start from, at the end of the day, all is relative.
Recovery is one of these concepts. I can’t define it for all, so let me tell you today what it means to me, as a person recovered.
Recovery is being at peace with yourself. Being at peace with the rest of the world. Or rather, as well as you can. Because the world is full of problems and disordered systems that try to make us feel unwell, like we are full of problems. Recovery is rejecting those systems and asking yourself: ‘Is this a problem for me?’. Then realizing, that if the answer is no and whatever you are doing is not hurting anyone else, the problem really doesn’t exist. Recovery means, that if I want to eat a light breakfast and a bigger dinner, it’s fine. I am Mediterranean in many ways – in temper, speech and way of life. I can be that, even if I live in Finland. I do not have an eating disorder if I freely choose what and when I eat and manage to stay healthy.
Recovery means making peace with the fact that every body is different. Mine is very slim. My mother was like that when she was my age. My parents have always been very active. I am super-active. I enjoy long walks and that is not a sign of an eating disorder. I used to exercise compulsively. I do not anymore. I just enjoy being active.
Recovery means doing things that make me happy. I want to do a lot. I can cram many things into a day, because I am fast and efficient, and because I enjoy many, many things. I am not ‘manic’. I just want to do a lot. I refuse to be labelled disordered for wanting to taste everything that the world wants to offer me.
Sometimes when you enter the treatment sphere (this is pure Foucauldian chat btw, gotta love him), all your behaviour is read through a lense. Dear reader, take care and stay strong. You may find that all you are suddenly becomes a sign of illness. I’d like to suggest (based on a seminar I attended yesterday where a professor also suggested this) that the re-production of illness relates to the unhappiness of the staff at these institutions in the treatment/care sector. Unhappy people end up causing harm to others, usually unwittingly and subconsciously. That is a sad reflection on the disordered state of the structures and systems of our society.
Recovery means sticking to your guns and fighting these systems, as well as one human individual can. Accepting that when the things you feel cause you problems have been taken care of/treated, the only important question to ask is: ‘Does this make me happy?’, and that the answer, regarding treatment, may end up being ‘no’. Recovery may mean leaving treatment when others still think there are things to treat. But recovery is understanding, that you are the best person to know what makes you happy. The best expert, when healthy, to know yourself and to help yourself keep happy.
This is my interpretation of recovery. Please note, dear reader, that I am not advocating for leaving treatment too soon. I am advocating instead for a sense of confidence in your ability to take care of yourself when the things that have caused you problems have been eradicated. It does little good to a human to get stuck on their diagnosis and the labelling that often follows. You are so much more than whatever label you have been given. I am so much more.