‘Is Recovery the Right Word?’ by Dolly Sen

omeka-net-4762-archive-fullsize-757b9035f7beee79de9361dc5997f5bfExcellent reflections by Dolly Sen from an Archive of Mental Health Recovery Stories.

‘The problem with the Recovery Model is that it is a medical term, and is expected to sit safely and warmly in the medical world. The recovery model says you need to look beyond the symptoms and see the person. But the whole relationship between service user and professional is regulated by the symptoms, depending if your symptoms go up or down, decides what treatment you get, if any at all.

It is also assuming that there is an illness to recover from. That the mental and emotional pain is not a very human and very appropriate response to trauma, that it has to be pathological, a sickness.

If that wasn’t enough, it then puts you in a system where people blow out your candle and then ask you to get better, or it takes your candle away and then asks ‘where is your light?’ You won’t find a better example of catch 22 than in psychiatry.

I came across the idea of recovery before I came across the model, and it didn’t need to fit the model because it was truly personal, it was deep, meaningful understanding that I had the power to change things for the better.

I had hope before the recovery model, it can’t claim it as its own, it shouldn’t steal my thunder or my accomplishment, the system had nothing to do with it, and in fact has made my journey harder not easier.

There are lots to say about the Recovery Model, but it misses the point in so many places. For example, work is seen as a goal in recovery, but the model does nothing to look at stigma and discrimination in the workplace, or trying to change that. Is the world or workplace going to welcome with open arms someone who says hello, my name is Dolly and I have got schizophrenia?

The fear around mental health is still there, and the recovery model has done near to nothing to tackle that.  The problem with the recovery model is that it puts all the responsibility on the service user and none onto society. YOU can change your life, but can you change how people respond to you?

Is recovery about being well enough to be thrown into the world of sharks? I can see how some people don’t want to ‘recover’ because they are suspicious of rejoining the world that hurt them or made them have a breakdown in the first place.  Where is the recovery model for the society of sharks?

So is recovery the right word? Depends if it has power and meaning for you.

It doesn’t for me, finding the dollyness of dolly is not a medical phenomena, it is an emotional and spiritual one, it is a human one, and humans were discovering and healing themselves long before psychiatry came along.’