"What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.” –Glenn Close
We have come a long way in how we view mental health, but there is still a lot of stigma that clouds recovery. A focus on mental illness is necessary in a therapeutic setting, however, I believe considering only the illness highlights what is wrong. We introduce the sunlight into treatment by using person-first, strengths-based services.
For years, many people told me “this is just how you will be” or I should “get over” my symptoms. They focused on what was wrong with me, so I believed I would always be a “mentally ill” person. I never thought I would achieve what a “normal” person would achieve. As I began recovery, I ran into a new problem: people questioned my testimony. They wondered if my experiences were exaggerated or wrong because my story no longer fit the “ill” expectation. I immediately went from being “too” to “not enough,” since recovery is seen as miraculous and not attainable.
By focusing on what is strong, space is created for recovery stories. We lead the narrative on how society views us in recovery. Considering the barriers and validating strengths promotes candor, eliminates stigma, and eradicates shame. This is why our recovery stories are so important; they provide the sunlight to those who have lost all hope of getting better.
Elizabeth is a Recovery Coach at an RRC in Henderson, NC. Her passion is to provide person-centered services and empower guests through strengths-based language.