Recovery – My way, my goal, my story

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As an affected individual the recovery approach has become a very important part of my own recovery story – even before I knew what it was all about. In 25 years of experience in psychiatry I went through a transformation. Only later through my activity as a representation of interest for users I learned the terms “recovery” or “empowerment”.

Upon reflection of my recovery history, there are two push factors I have very consciously experienced. On the one hand there was the “denial” of psychiatry as the absolutely only system for the only chance of cure for my condition. I questioned the diagnoses and medications given to me very critically as I felt they were not helpful. In my most frequent stay at a psychiatric clinic, I noticed that the actual healing potential was not in the pills I swallow every day. It was not very satisfying or even comforting for me to know that my "abnormality" was a disease. In discussions with my fellow patients I gained an understanding that psychiatry could not offer. With black humor we gave each other a boost - laughter is healthy and makes you feel good. Informal conversations were often the beneficial and liberating moments of inpatient psychiatry´s daily routine. It was these conversations and experiences with like-minded people who were pushing me forward. Through them, my deep dormant skills and resources got closer to the surface again. In this collegial setting they could rise without assessment and had sufficient space!

By keeping in mind the scope of this self-healing process, which was already set in motion, my thoughts about me and my future got better. Today I believe that exactly this awareness was the crucial point of my recovery. Now it was time to implement this knowledge so that I could get the most out of it.
I knew I needed professional help, to accompany and support me in my intentions. This way the drugs that had piled up over my previous psychiatric recovery, which I gradually reduced to only the necessary dose. I started a long-term psychotherapy, this time not with the main focus on the disease, but the development of my good characteristics and the strengthening of my buried skills.
I used the knowledge gained during my recovery, the experience I made with myself and others, to get ahead. Due to the success of this tactic I started to occupy myself theoretically with these subjects. Through some very creative processes I learned to appreciate the positive parts of my illness and different methods to pass on these principles to others.
As an affected person and by profound conviction, that the recovery approach involves more than one alternative healing potential, I wish that in the future the recovery model and the promotion of peer work will achieve a high valued relevance in public health.

Irene Seifriedsberger