Skip to main content

New Recovery Lives

Having experienced a range of situations, and people related to my illness, I understand how "recovery" can have several interpretations and that each meaning is arguably the ideal definition.  Recovery to me used to mean striving for a part of me that used to be, before my illness stole that life away from me. How does an individual stop comparing their recovery to their old life?

I think it is difficult for each individual to let go of their career that once defined who they were- working in the corporate world, being a teacher, and real estate agent, or a student in college, etc. I remember my mother once said, 'this is all new to you, and you have to learn the new Ashley.' I think that was great advice, because it opened my eyes to having an open mind on my recovery. I have a new life in recovery and I choose to nourish it instead of measuring it and comparing it to my life before diagnosis.

How have you learned to cope with your life in recovery?

To learn more about schizophrenia visit NAMI, Choices in Recovery, and Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (Canada).


Chris said…
Hi Ashley,

I was diagnosed when I was 22 shortly after I received a BA in English. In this regard I was lucky I pulled through school first. Though not entirely lucky I was determined to persist in getting the degree. Luck most likely had nothing to do with it.

I couldn't go straight to work and my first jobs were in the gray flannel insurance field. I cycled through one job after another until I had the courage to go back to school to get a library science degree.

My life took off when I turned 35 and started working in a career where I could be creative and express myself.

Your mother is right about The New Ashley because this points to a hidden truth:

A lot of us place value on the external trappings of success: the car, the job, the house.

Yet when that's taken away from us we can choose how to respond.

It helps if our self-worth isn't tied into what we do and is linked to who we are and how we act in the world towards others.

Our character can't be taken away from us even in our darkest hour: we will always be ourselves.

The tide will come in or go out in our lives regularly.

How we respond affects the outcome.

We can live *magnificent* lives in our recovery.

We can be ourselves only better.

The old life wasn't supposed to continue.

Mark my words:

The best is yet to be.
Ashley Smith said…
Very encouraging- thank you, Chris.
Matt said…
I look back to my job and wish I had handled myself better. Then with the next job. I wish I had been happier and more responsible. Now I am looking for another job. From your post recovery can mean a lot of things. It is true how you respond and how you look after yourself define a part of recovery. Does having a job mean you have recovered? Or relating to people in a manner that shows you are in control? Is recovery more than symptom management? I believe it is true the lives that we now live is new the old has gone the new has come.
Ashley Smith said…
Hi Matt, in my opinion recovery is not only about symptom management it includes accomplishing some of your life goals that may not have to do with mental illness. Most of your questions have unique answers for everyone- to some having a job is recovery while to others it may not be. Thank you for your thoughts on this.

Popular posts from this blog

Religious Preoccupation

After a talk, a woman asked me if my faith contributed to my recovery because she noticed that I mentioned it throughout my speech. In addition to that, she told me that she observed people with faith as having a better outcome in their mental health recovery.

First, I came from a family with Christian values. My faith in God started to get intense during the latter years of high school, which in my opinion, is when I started having symptoms. In my experience religion plays a major role in my mental health- its delusions, its coping skills, and in my recovery. In medical terms they call my religious rituals and delusions "religious preoccupation."

Before I was diagnosed I was highly religious. In fact, I wanted to be an evangelist and to go to a Christian college. I would read my Bible for several hours a day throughout the day, listen to hymns, and meditate. Sometimes I would ignore people if they wanted my attention while I was meditating I was in such deep thought. Also, I …

How Can I Support Someone with Persecution Delusions

Recently, a reader asked how to support, or what to say to someone who has persecutory delusions and confides in them. I thought this question was profound. By investigating this question it could help so many people maintain or develop a trusting relationship with their relative, friend, or client, etc. I asked the opinion of my therapist, and she gave some pointers and asked me to remember a time when I was psychotic and what could someone have said to me to make me feel more comfortable...

When I was at my peak of psychosis everything was a sign from God- that truck making a U-turn meant go back, that taxi cab driver telling me to stay out of trouble meant he was in on it too. While I was psychotic I heard conflicting voices. When I would ask someone a question on the phone the voices would give different information. I was extremely paranoid. And almost everyone was a threat. I couldn't confide in relatives because they would tell my secrets, I couldn't trust friends becaus…

Lack of Trust: A Byproduct of My Mental Illness

In this entry, I'll share my experiences with Schizophrenia in regards to feeling lack of trust in others, paranoia, and isolation.... I remember my many episodes with Schizophrenia where I felt uneasy because of lack of trust in others. In the past, isolation was a giant bullying me around.

Sometimes my mind would take me to a place of fear, hurt, and an unsettling spirit, which started with what seemed like a strange look, or a different feeling around an individual, when in reality it was another symptom of my undiagnosed illness- paranoia. My paranoia was rampant and dictated my life prior to experiencing a crisis, which led me to jail and into forced treatment and to receive an official diagnosis of Schizophrenia in 2007.

In other words, my illness created enemies in my mind. For instance, I once believed my favorite kin was against me and I felt like she wanted me to fail, and I eventually thought she was conspiring to harm me. However, she never said anything to imply these f…