Recovering from Chronic Mental Illness

August 25, 2011 Natalie Jeanne Champagne

The word recovery is often socially defined as the achievement of health after a period of illness. Recovery is thought to be consistent and often connected to a physical illness. Recovery, when connected to a chronic mental illness, is different; the word itself holds more weight. The process from sickness to health is not absolute in nature. It is transient, and can change with the seasons or be triggered by life events.


What Does Recovery Mean When you Suffer With a Chronic Mental Illness?

Recovering from a mental illness does mean achieving a state of health. With a combination of medication and support, lifestyle changes and therapy, life can be stable. Some people who suffer with a chronic mental illness, such a bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, do maintain wellness. They rarely relapse. My grandfather, treated with lithium for nearly forty years, has never relapsed. Unfortunately, that is not the reality for many people. Myself included.

The word chronic, unlike the word recovery, is defined as a disease which persists for a long time, and connected with mental illness, it might persist for a person's entire life. For this group, recovery can mean a period of stability, months or years, a period in which a person does not have any symptoms. You can work and you can play, you can fall in and out of love, your life becomes what you make of it.

Not everyone who suffers with a chronic mental illness can achieve this state of health for a long period of time. The word recovery means something decidedly different to them. In my life, recovery is a constant battle, though it has gradually become one that I have won: but not without the cycle that is bipolar disorder. My illness is defined by the seasons; as summer becomes fall and fall becomes winter, I start to slip. But that does not mean I do not recover. My recovery is defined as remission.

Recovering from a mental illness is a process, it always feels longer then it should, but there are things we can do to stay well, to stay on top of any mood changes, and live a healthy life. That is what recovery means in my life: Having become clean and sober after years of addiction, accepting the medication I take every day, and understanding that recovery does not mean I will always be well but that I can work to stay well.

Mental Health Recovery on an Individual Basis

It is understood that people are not the same. We are all woven from different fabric: we all think differently, talk differently, and interact with people differently. This is what makes us unique. The same applies to the process of recovery. Each person who struggles with a chronic mental illness has a different experience, a separate story, and will walk their individual road to wellness.

Recovery can mean being able to get through the day, rising from bed and smiling once in a while, working with your psychiatrist to find medication that works. Long-term, recovery can include periods of stability, a lifetime free of the fear of relapse. That should be the ultimate goal. Believing that this is possible is important.

Recovery is a broad term, and something I continually explore on a daily basis.

What is your experience with recovery?

You can connect with me on facebook: Natalie Jeanne Champagne

Or on my website:



APA Reference
Jeanne, N. (2011, August 25). Recovering from Chronic Mental Illness, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 24 from

Author: Natalie Jeanne Champagne

Garden Urthark
August, 27 2011 at 10:45 am

Natalie, it takes a lot of courage to admit that you have a mental illness. I hope you have not suffered setbacks due to the social consequences of making such an admission. I wrote a novel about a character who suffers from bipolar disorder and who eventually achieves wellness. Check it out while it's still available for free as an eBook at As you say, everybody's story is somewhat different, including your grandfather's and your own (I checked out your website and read the excerpt from your book). Have you read I NEVER PROMISED YOU A ROSE GARDEN by Joanne Greenberg? Good luck with your book! I'm going to follow you on Twitter.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natalie Jeanne Champagne
August, 27 2011 at 11:42 am

Thanks for the comments. At this point in my life I do not consider the implications of my coming out in the open: I have had nothing but positive reactions and I am so blessed for this. Even if and when I do receive negative feedback, that's okay, that is just life. Thank you for checking out my site and I will certainly look into your novel. Well done writing it I know how hard it is to publish. I have read that book, very well done.
Take care and stay in touch via my webpage or

Panic attacks
September, 5 2011 at 7:41 pm

It's upsetting how many of us go through panic attacks and anxiety often. However the good news is that, as blogs (like this one) keep speaking out about it - awareness grows, and as knowledge also increases, so does the expectation for improvement.

Dr Musli Ferati
September, 7 2011 at 10:44 am

Recovering from chronic mental illness presents up to date tendency of current psychiatric treatment of any psychiatric entity. To accomplish this top goal it should to make extraordinary effort both from psychiatric treatment team and from mentally ill patient. Preliminary condition for this desire aim is the establishment of healthy social network in environment where respective mentally ill patient live and work. Otherwise, the process of recovery would be incomplete and temporary, that decrease the probability for a satisfactory return of global life abilities. Without elementary life skills, psychiatric treatment would be contradictory with modern claims of mental well-being-optimally index of life functioning. In parallel with these recommendations, it ought to respect individually psycho-social characteristics of every psychiatric patient in accord with sociocultural and socioeconomic features that determines lifestyle of respective ill patient. That is to say, recovering of mentally ill patient must to be over-included, dynamic, and long lasting process.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natalie Jeanne Champagne
September, 8 2011 at 6:31 am

Hi, Dr. Musli Ferati:
Many thanks for this insightful and educated reply. I am sure many people can learn from it.

Breville JE98XL Juicer
September, 11 2011 at 7:21 pm

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Stephen Gaved
June, 2 2012 at 9:55 am

I am I'm recovery from a debilitating depressive illness and my family has had to go through this too. I had been suffering from anxiety for about four and a half years . I ran my own gardening business and took pride in my work. Then the worst came I became extremely agitated and took a massive overdose trying to escape from the anxiety. I was admitted into my local hospital and treated then released a day later. Following this I couldn't sit still and was constantly pacing my house. The next morning my wife called the gp who came to our house to find me in an extreme state. I was admitted into the local psychiatric hospital ward. That was the 6th of march 2012 I was released on the 14th of April. I am home now and trying to pick up the pieces.
I was diagnosed with a bi-polar illness depression not manic.
I am back working but really struggling to get better.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natalie Jeanne Champagne
June, 4 2012 at 6:24 am

Hi, Stephen
Mental illness can quickly alter your entire life. Your story is the story of so many people, but unique to you, it sounds like you do have family support and are getting back into society. It can take people years--Just keep pushing through!
Thank you for commenting,

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