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Lived Experience Can Set Your Momentum Towards Recovery

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There is undeniable mobility to recovery. Moving forward in your path to health and healing requires inertia. From the rate of recovery, the very speed and velocity required to push life’s pash setbacks, to identifying a sustainable pace, is a space and feat that requires a high level of self-awareness and knowledge of your diagnosis.

Depending on your diagnosis, trauma history, and triggers, you will need to get to know how to lock on to a path which will hurl you towards better health, and avoid the undertow of relapse. This is a tightrope, and walking the line necessitates discipline, wisdom and lived experience.

While having a strong clinical prowess can help frame your weak points, as well as strengths, only learning from lived experience will truly forecast how you will respond to stressors, and how quickly you rally back from pitfalls and risk of relapse.

Unfortunately, this means a period of trial and error. This doesn’t sound very clinical, but it very clinical, as testing and applied experiential knowledge are most certainly play a role in the clinical picture. Sometimes, we need to see what works and what doesn’t work, before we can truly forecast the future from historical experiences.

So how can we understand the mobility that moves our recovery along in better terms? Mobility is a movement. Above all, it is the energy that pushes us past holding patterns in our recovery in which people stagnate and feel trapped, without progress or hope. These can be the most frustrating moments in our recovery. When we just don’t seem to make any progress from week to week. Mobility makes progress possible. But mobility itself isn’t progress. It the mechanism that drives progress forward.

Think of a car and its engine. The engine moves the car along from point A to point B. But depending on the course and direction the driver takes, the journey in which the car takes can have several outcomes. The car can safely get to point B and experience movement towards its goal. Or, the car can crash on its way to point B and not make it to its destination.

This is the stagnation, holding pattern, and deferred progress I was referring to which all depends on the knowledge, skills, wisdom, preparedness, and all things which push back against risk of relapse.

As drivers in our own recovery or captains of the ship, if you prefer that metaphor, we all need to steer clear of pitfalls. More importantly, we need to truly understand, how far and how much we can push, continue moving forward in our recovery, without burning out our engine, or worse, getting injured along the way.

I have experienced a number of injuries and mishaps along the way to my path to health and healing. But no injury so devastating that I couldn’t keep moving forward. Why? Because I got to know my weak points very well. I learned, that when I am collapsing, to sit down and take a seat before hitting the hard cold pavement of relapse and heartache.

Finding the energy to move forward in recovery can be difficult. With severe symptoms, can carry with it, lethargy from medication side effects, or even worse, setbacks from poor decision making from cognitive distortions which can form from delusional systems which can become fixed or solvent, depending on the condition. With all of these obstacles in your path to healing, finding the right course to avoid pitfalls can be problematic. Each successive setback can be even more demoralising. This is understandable but not a licence to stop walking the path to health and healing.

So, I recommend a few things to get mobility moving in the right direction.

  • Learn your limits
  • Plan for the worst at all times
  • Know your weak points and nurture your strengths
  • Tally your victories, and each marker or indicator you are making progress
  • When you succeed, prepare to lose ground unless you get to know the mobility and momentum required to keep moving forward

Learning limits is a constant reminder of how far you can psychologically and physiologically push your body before accumulating negative feedback or outcomes. Truly know that not being mindful of this can lead to the worst of relapses. Keeping in mind a great stretch is this awareness of your limits can be limitlessly fruitful in avoiding potentially very harmful and difficult problems in your path to health.

Keeping in mind, charting your victories, however small, is not only motivating but clinically helpful in raising your own awareness of what works and what doesn’t in moving the momentum of healing alongFinally, always remember that hope is never truly lost until you stop believing in recovery. 


An earlier version of this article was first published in Mental Health Affairs.


Image credit: Freepik

Maxwell Guttman teaches social work at Fordham University. He is also a mental health correspondent for Psychreg where he shares his insights on recovery and healing.


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