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Are you ever fully recovered from depression? This is a question I’ve been asked a lot.
Someone who asked me this question most recently did so because they constantly felt like their depression wasn’t there until one day it blew up in their face. They weren’t falling into their old practices, habits, and behaviours, but they experienced their depression again. They asked the question out of desperation and hopelessness. It left me burdened on their behalf, but it also got me thinking: Are we ever fully recovered? What does that look like?
Out of curiosity, I looked up the dictionary definition of “recover” and I came up with two answers that fit:
“To regain the strength, composure, balance, or the like, of (oneself)” and “to reclaim from a bad state, practice, etc.”
When I suffered from depression, I would often wonder if the bad days would ever end. I would occasionally have one day where it wasn’t so hazy or clouded in deep anguish, and think this was it: I was going to get better now.
However, for a long time, those moments of feeling happy lasted only a little while and I would be back into my dark cloud of depression.
I desperately wanted to be back where I was before: happy, vibrant, motivated, and optimistic. It wasn’t until I reached rock bottom that I finally entered into recovery. Once I was recovered, I didn’t expect to have anymore bad days; I would never have a day where I was feeling down or depressed because after all, I was “recovered,” wasn’t I? Wrong. I did (and still do) have those days.
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I now know how to combat them in a way that is healthy, constructive, and proactive way which makes all the difference.
So to answer the question of “Are you ever fully recovered from depression?” In my opinion, yes.
I don’t think having a bad day every once in a while negates the fact you are recovered.
You are so much more than that one bad day. After all, before the bad day you had many good days strung together in a line of recovery and one hiccup does not mean a retrogression back into depression.
When I was doing some research on this topic, I came across a website featuring a scale psychiatrists use to determine whether someone has experienced a relapse which runs on a scale of 1-10. At first I assumed being in “remission” (or recovered) would be scoring a zero on the scale for number of symptoms. You want to know the real number? Seven. Yup, seven.
So, I want to encourage you: don’t feel like if you experience relapse or if you have a bad day you are not recovered.
You will have bad days and suffering from depression doesn’t automatically make a bad day count as complete failure. Don’t be afraid of those days, because in my opinion, you are still recovered.
Life is punctuated by ups and downs, but if you are recovered, you know how to fight those downs and not let them defeat you; however, you still have down days. It’s just a part of life.
What you do with those down days is truly an indicator of your recovery.
I want to leave you with a bit of encouragement: choose recovery. It is the best choice you can make, and once you do, you open yourself up to wholeness, happiness, and life abundant. If you have already made that choice, then stand firm on the truth you are recovered.
Don’t fall prey to the whispers of doubt when your story and recovery shout much louder.
Let your story speak to your success and journey; let recovery in.
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