Oct 19, 2012

Life Beyond Recovery - Comments on Flourishing

A couple of months ago I suggested that "recovery" wasn't good enough, and that people could accomplish more than that - they can "flourish." You can read the original post here. I've had a lot of feedback about this, and thought I would present some of the comments from a LinkedIn discussion on the topic.

I am becoming more and more convinced that the normalization of mental illness and the elimination of stigma are possible only if we stress people's potential instead of their sickness. What do you tell an adolescent about their prospects in life -- that they will always be diseased? That they have a limited sort of hope for recovery?

Everyone wants to flourish, and I think that people can get there once they gain control of their lives.


Recovery is great but flourish sounds healthy, happy, challenged, and where we all want to be. It normalizes and contributes to one feeling as a working part of a whole.
While constantly trying to improve ("recover"), I flourish. I am now capable of being passionate about life, people, and my career.
I love the idea. I think a challenge is the issue of funding sources that want and push for "recovery" or "cure" because we still push the medical model in the diagnosis and treatment of Mental illness. It could be a pardigm shift for the field.
The term recovery has only positive connections to living life well in my humble opinion. Fortunately, I have a great psychiatrist and my experiences were mostly positive in my recovery. Giving the medical model its due in no way precludes the idea that people can flourish. 
People with mental illnesses have been flourishing for years now. Only most of us live in hiding because of the stigma. 
Flourishing is what you do when you choose recovery. Years ago Martin Seligman wrote a book titled Flourish about this concept. It expounds further along in his concept of Authentic Happiness and well being. 
The word we need to toss out is "mental illness." I too take an assets model approach to life. Focusing on wellness is the most productive use of our time. I always equated recovery with wellness.
I can only offer what I've learned through my son's experience. 'Recovery' itself is misleading to us as schizophrenia is not like the common cold where he could recover or get over it. I like the use of Flourish but I feel it is only in the later stages of managing the illness' symptoms that this can actually be realized. There must be something between intervention, treatment, management of symptoms, and then flourish. That is the goal, to flourish. That is also the process.
As a Certified Peer Support Specialist & self-disclosing prior client of the facility in which I work, I have to say that working with my groups is the most hopeful thing I have ever experienced in the mental health world... where one did not have the option to truly "be themselves", they now can participate in a supportive group of "like minds" in a recovery-oriented, (or for some, symptom management - thus, flourishing-oriented),environment that is "on their level".

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