Although defined by Oxford’s dictionary as a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength, the word recovery has a different meaning depending on who you ask. Throughout my recovery journey, one of the most vital things I’ve learned is that the definition of recovery within my own life must be what I define it as, or else my journey is not my own. Far too often, I found myself trying to live up to a universal definition of recovery such as the one expressed in the first sentence but doing so continually left me feeling like I was not doing good enough. This is like those individuals who want to be professional chefs, but one wants to specialize in baking while the other wants to be well known for their delicious Italian dishes. Although the general goal remains the same, both chefs cannot exactly align their actions because their end goals are different. Similarly, my recovery can be seen in the differences in the way I react to certain situations or what I allow and don’t allow in my life while for others, it may be a change in how often they engage in self harm or take care of themselves.

Moreover, I’ve also learned that recovery is a life-long process. I used to believe that once I reached a certain point, I would be okay 100 percent of the time, and nothing would ever negatively phase me again. Nevertheless, this is not the case. As I continue my recovery journey, I realize that life circumstances will continue to impact me in various capacities, but what changes is my reaction to those situations. Instead of feeling so overwhelmed that I think of suicide or other self-injurious behaviors first, I can feel overwhelmed and instead go for a walk or do a word search to distract myself while the thoughts pass. Instead of living like I can never feel any emotions, I can allow myself to welcome the emotions, process them in a healthy way, and then let them go. There is absolutely nothing wrong with allowing ourselves to be human and have emotions tied to our everyday lives.

Lastly, I’ve learned that recovery is a normal part of every person’s life. Many times, recovery is portrayed as something that must only be attained by individuals who abuse a substance, hurt themselves or others, or have some type of physical illness. Nevertheless, as the human beings that we all are, we are ALL prone to things that we will need to recover from in some way. Hard day at work? We need time to recover so we can go back to our fullest capacity. Financial or relationship troubles-? We must recover from that, so we don’t continue in the same cycle that got us there initially. In all facets of life, there will be something that we will need to recover from.

What is your current connotation of the word “recovery”? After reading this article, do you think it should be changed in any way? Take the time to self-reflect on some of the goals you currently have and how having a varying version of the word recovery can help you achieve them. Here’s to everything you set out to do this month!