The So-Called Recovery Model

Okay, I haven’t jumped on the bandwagon nor climbed in it with both feet, but I’ve acknowledged its presence by crossing my fingers and adding a dash of hope. Why? Because without hope there is no reason to go on. False hope, however, is no panacea, and that’s where I get stymied since, from a personal perspective, my family’s situation is bleak.

On some days, I try to see the big picture. My ill son is living independently (at present) and my other son is finishing law school. I give myself pep talks and look for the good.

On the not-so-good days, I acknowledge that barring a miracle (which I no longer expect), my ill son will deteriorate further since even on his meds he has residual psychosis and impaired cognitive functioning.

So when “they” (those folks in the psych community who push the movement) say “recovery” what does that mean? In my son’s case, he will not return to the functioning person he was before his illness. His “broken” brain will not heal in the way that a broken leg will. He has, in essence, become a different person. Yes, he can go grocery shopping, but with help from a member of his support team. He may be at his best, but is being your “best” (when you function at a reduced capacity), recovery? Not to me, it isn’t, but then I, too, have not recovered and don’t expect to—from my broken heart. But I mustn’t forget that dash of hope …


About waywardweed

I am a consumer and parent of two sons, one with a mental illness and the other a third-year law student.
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13 Responses to The So-Called Recovery Model

  1. john harbour says:

    it is a forever heartbreak–  what could have been? what if? 
    and… an amount of separation is key–  as kathleen and i found out, our sons independence grew as he established his own life apart from ours– it was hard–  he was very resistant and bitter for a long time–  he resisted any association with the “crazy” people, but finally adjusted to living in a group home, then living with a couple of other guys, to now living alone with full assistance–  
    clozaril- sp? also was a big help for him–
    when i think back to the mistrustful and scared eyes that he directed towards me and the inability to communicate with me i  am very thankful for the drug–  however, it does not work for all and everyone’s situation is different–  again, for us, separation was key– for our mental health, as well as joshua’s–

  2. Hi there, it has been a while since I last posted here, and your blog post today, I feel I need to comment.

    I am living on my own, and for the most part not all that well, cooking food is a huge problem, as I really have limited skills in this area, and I am really scared to spend money on food, food is very expensive, and I have very very limited income, I have not worked professionally for at least 3 years, had the few calls but nothing meaningful for nearly a year now, and that is not good.

    Mental illness is a serious condition, both for the patient and the patients family, and friends if the patient has friends, which I do not have. Mental illness is a horrible illness in that it is a hidden illness, you cannot tell someone is a sufferer and how much they are suffering, there are very few signs, if any.

    I agree that I as a mental illness patient, I will never recover to what I was before, and most days I wish I could go back to the time when I was “in the great fog” that was my life before 2009, for most days now since 2009, they have been a curse not a blessing and I go to bed every night hoping that something will happen to stop the suffering.

    Suicide is damn hard to do, and I have tried a few times, came so damn close in december 2011, but as you can see, I survived, and every day since, 1 question I have is why?

    I have zero faith or belief in most medical professionals, and I have no faith whatsoever in the mental health profession, which I believe cause more harm than good. Medical doctors for the most part are very book smart, but really not so smart in other areas. I have with the course of my late mom’s illness had to come into contact with various medical professionals, and for the most part, they had the medicine about 65% right, but patient care, the so called “bedside manner”, there was none, and when I pushed them on this, they had very weak excuses, all of this just helped to make me trust them less and less.

    It of course does not help when your psychiatrist outright lies about things, and then blames you when things go badly, as happened with me. Long story short, I had a near fatal overdose, and when the psychiatrist was called, she was not available, and there was no one covering her service, so I asked her about this, and I asked who it was that was meant to cover her service in her absence, my psychiatrist, said that due to my weak financial situation, the locum psychiatrist, her partner in the practice, would not be prepared to accept my 90% discounted rate, and she was not going to pay him the outstanding 90% [about $50], I pay $15.

    I do not have a support team, I am 100% alone and as a result, when I go shopping, I often forget what to buy, and I then beat myself up about this. I have so many wonderful ideas, but when I enter the shop, everything becomes too much, and I have to leave, I come home with the wrong items, or nothing.

    I know that for the rest of my life, I will be damaged, and I am so scared no one will want to know me as I have mental illness.

    south africa

    • Justine-Paula,

      My heart goes out to you. My sister who has bipolar disorder also mourns the loss of friends which are so very important to personal health in general. In the states, there are support groups for people recovering from mental illness. These are places where you can meet people who are going through similar trials, who accept you as you are, and who understand what you are going through. Is there anything like that where you are? And what about NAMI – the National Alliance for Mental Illness – are there patient advocacy organizations in South Africa that you can connect with? You are not alone — I hate that you feel that way. If nothing else, there is the internet community. Hang in there, dear one.

      Some of what you experience when shopping could be effects of your meds. Any med that targets the brain can mess up concentration, impact short-term memory, or cause confusion. Keep fighting. I can tell from your comment that you are stronger than you give yourself credit.

  3. mary f says:

    I am glad to see you feel the same way I do about the latest gimmic that is being pushed by so called mental health professionals. I think it is a shame that the term recovery is being so abused by the system. According to the dictionary recovery is defined as a return to “normal” state. Well, excuse me but the ones of us who deal 24/7 with the reality of mental illness cannot be fooled into believing there will ever be a return to normalcy. I think it is disgraceful to suggest false hope to those who struggle to just have a half way good day. I think suggesting recovery is a ploy for the mental health people to use as an excuse to cut back services even more.

  4. waywardweed says:

    Hi Mary,
    Despite all I say, I know I must retain a measure of hope–if only for myself. If I am correct (and I think I am in this case), the “recovery” movement began with consumers of mental-health services, not the professionals. It was to remind those treating them that they (the consumers) were still people and not merely objects. Some needed that reminder. I have known people with schiz who have gone on to lead “normal” lives with jobs and families. One, the mother of four healthy children, started a drop-in center in my city years ago, which is still in operation. Dr. E. Fuller Torry who wrote Surviving Schizophrenia says about one third will recover. While my son won’t be in that category, and apparently, not your loved one either, I try not to give in to despair–although I often do and wind up in the hospital as a result. I have to fight my dark thoughts and do so by reaching out to others in the same boat through blogging, attending NAMi meetings (I will soon go to the Family-to-Family group), and a local clubhouse since I have major depression. As far as recovery, while we are not there yet, I can’t give up. (Not today anyway.) I hope you are taking care of yourself.
    Nancy (Waywardweed)

  5. stuffredsaid says:

    I would love to comment here with some profound words of encouragement but like you all I have right now is a small spark of hope. I am glad you visited my blog and I look forward to reading here often.

    Nancy, I wish you and your son peace.

  6. 1sparrow says:

    Having first experienced the mental health system in the 70s, when no one mentioned the word “recovery,” I am relieved to hear the word used now, and to know that people do recover. For those who do not see much progress, the word can seem like a mockery. I don’t know of many words that can soften the torment of ongoing symptoms of schizophrenia or major depression, but knowing that people care, pray, accept you as you are, and fully comprehend your agony helps the most.

  7. I appreciate this post and have felt the same way about my sister’s recovery. It seems to me that there are varying levels of recovery in mental illness, illness in general, and in life. If your house burns down, you may recover, that is, eventually replace the house with a new one, but you can’t fully recover everything lost, family heirlooms, photos, etc. You bounce back but not necessarily to the place from where you started. I’ve seen this with my mother-in-law who is “recovering” from cancer. Her oncologist had to surgically remove lymph nodes to eradicate the cancer and five years later, she still experiences pain and swelling in her right leg as a result. That will likely never go away. It is her new normal. And yet, technically, she has recovered. She is cancer-free.

    I don’t expect my sister, Jerri, will ever be the person she might have been had she never had bipolar disorder. At times, I grieve that deeply. But my hope is that she will be able to live an independent and rewarding life, that she will know love, that she will continue to learn and grow for the rest of her days.

    I also believe in an afterlife where there is no illness of any kind. That is where my greatest hope lies. On the truly dark days, I think of being reunited with the real Jerri in that next life and of everything that was lost being restored.

  8. Justine-Paula Robilliard says:

    Hi Trophydaughter,
    At the end of May 2012, will make 3 years since I last worked professionally, and on the 2nd April 2012, will mark the 1 year since my mom passed away. To be honest, I am surprised I survived the last year, and I have decided after a very long period that I have to stop the torture.

    I know that I will never work professionally again, unless a miracle happens, and in the last 15 years, that never happened, and I do not expect it to happen in the next 8 weeks, so I am putting on notice, that the 26th May, the day before I turn 37 years old, I will not be seeing my birthday.

    I did nothing wrong, I was abused by the broadcaster, or rather they took advantage of me, NO, I let them take advantage of me, yes, I let them, NO NO NO, that is wrong, my mental illness led me to let them take advantage.. YES that option makes sense.. I hope it makes sense, it does to me, but then I have the worst kind of logic.

    The funny thing, my kind of logic does have a place, or I think it has a place, maybe it does not have place, I would have thought it had a place in television news, or in editing, as it is a mixed up out of place, illogical and logical thing, It is neither turkey nor duck nor chicken, but at the same time it has to be tur-duck-en!!!

    I miss it, and I make no bones about it.. never had a tur-duck-en, does tur-duck-en have bones??? Haddock has bones.. My mom told me that is why she hated doing haddock with white sauce and mash.. The fish had bones… God it has been too long since I had Haddock, my most fav fish.

    The fact is, I am useless, I am so much less than my mom, I am an embarrassment, and a waste of time. I have tried to explain to people I need help, and the help would be some sort of employment, a job.. Something to full the hours between sleep..But it seems that I am that sort of person that is not deserving of help.

    To answer the question is there help for me in terms of mental health no!! Now if I was a murderer or a bag-snatcher or a druggie, there are hundreds of places that offer help, but for mental health Not a single place.

    Commit a crime, and you get all sorts of social services, and yet when you turn into a bag of mixed nuts, there are only 2 choices, do it yourself, or nothing.. I have tried and failed.

    I am a failure, short and sweet and I am tired of trying, tired of praying, tired of getting excited, tired of thinking tomorrow will be better, so much so that there is no tomorrow, it is always today… The same hell, the name of the day changes…

    I am looking forward to being free from the pain, the torment, the torture, the sadness, to know that soon I can stop crying… I will be free… Bye
    Mobile: 0027833460230

    • Justine-Paula, I believe you shared your plan for suicide because there is a part of you that really wants to live. You just need help and you don’t know where to turn. I did a little online research and found the South African Depression and Anxiety group at
      My hope is that you will reach out to them for support. Their helpline is 011 262 6396 or 0800 20 50 26. Also the site lists a suicide crisis line number: 0800 567 567. Please call these numbers. I know you are hurting. I know you are tired. You are a person of infinite worth. There are people out there who can help you. Don’t give up.

      • Justine-Paula Robilliard says:

        Hi Trophydaughter,
        I wish I could phone them. I do not have the funds in my credit on my phone, the calls are not free from a mobile phone, and that is all I have.

        I am beyond tired, I am so happy to know that my pain is soon to be gone, there is just nothignleft in the tank.. I have given up.. Sorry..

  9. Justine-Paula – Zane Wilson at SADAG is trying to reach you. I’ve shared that you have no credit left on your phone. Zane says: “We haven’t been able to get hold of her by phone,
    and we have left messages with our emergency numbers throughout the night if she needs them.
     There are facilities and help, free and private.” So there is help, Justine-Paula. Since you can’t use your phone, how about email? Zane’s address is You can do this!

  10. Justine-Paula Robilliard says:

    There comes a time in some people’s lives where it is just insane to continue living, where living is not fun anymore, where it makes more sense to be dead than alive.

    Now I am not a bad person, maybe being trans is a bad thing, I have no idea, what I do know it is insane to have to be standing in the supermarket having to decide between really crappy peanut butter or really crappy instant coffee. Both are the same price, you cannot afford both, I for breakfast enjoy peanut butter toast with a cup or 2 of coffee, but given my low financial situation, I have to decide what is better, toast with no topping, or tea, which is not my most fav beverage.

    I cannot have peanut butter toast with coffee, as I do not have the funds for both, and seeing as hunger is more painful than offended taste buds, I went for the peanut butter, and I had hoped that during my drive to the shop I would meet with a fatal road crash.. I did not.. darn!!!

    It has been so near 3 years since I worked professionally, after 3 years of nothing to show, I am getting the strong sense, that this is not something employers like to read about, they want people that are fresh, current, that have recent knowledge, and after 3 years out of the job market what do I know??

    Funny how my life is running parallel to that of my mom’s life, when she became ill, and could no longer work, there came a time a few years later when she was ordered back to work, and into the same position as she was before her illness, and my mom asked that she be re-trained, as she had been away from the workplace for so long, she was no longer current, and the response was, “If you cannot do the work, we will have to fire you….no retraining!!” This logic is absurd, and rightfully Mom did not take this lying down, and in the process things worked out ok.. The doctor was an idiot.. Made a judgement based on stupid ideas…

    So I am very much the same, if I was to go back now, I would not know the systems in use today.. I am not sure, I suspect, that there will be no further training offered, well why would they train me?? The employer expects me to have spent the last 3 years working elsewhere, where I would be trained, so that they do not have to pay for the training…Which is rather sad, as the full-time staff have access to this training, and so if you have 3 people on a course or 10, and the course can accommodate this increase for no extra expense, why not do it… Then again, I have the worst logic on the planet, bar none!!

    I have decided that given what has passed has hell for the last 3 years, life termination cannot be any worse, sure the actual process of life termination, suicide will be painful, no question..Once I have been through the few seconds, or 1 second of pain, then bliss, once I am dead, then everyone and everything can settle down, and be totally normal.

    It is all my own fault, everything that has happened in my life, is my fault, 100%, I own it, I did it.. I did everything, no one else is to blame, I cannot blame anyone else, would be nice to be able to blame someone else, but no, I did it!!! I made all my own decisions and where they right ones? Hell no… You insane??!!

    Oh, I am the insane one?? Yes I am the insane one, after all I thought I had the ability to make decisions, which clearly based on results is wrong.. It is clear that I do not possess the skills to make choices or decisions that are safe for me.

    With suicide there will be questions, what I do know is that this decision in regards suicide has been a well thought out decision, I have long thought about it…I have given life enough time to show me the way, and so far after over 1000 days, nothing good.. I cannot afford to wait another 1000 days…now that would be insane…

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