Thoughts on Mental Health Recovery

August 15, 2011 Natalie Jeanne Champagne

I was twelve years old when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. That same year, I was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, oppositional conduct disorder, and anxiety disorder. Point in case: I was a very sick and a terribly confused young woman. I spent many years in and out of hospitals; my body was laced with different combinations of medications. Three years later, at the age of fifteen, I became well.

Mental Health Stability and the Impact of Traumatic Events


After a couple years of relative mental health stability, this thanks to a combination of effective medications, I returned to school and eventually college. I wrote feature articles for the campus newspaper and lived alone, peacefully, happy. When I was eighteen, my best friend hung himself. He had bipolar disorder as well, and we had spent time in the hospital together, recovering, and discovering the world together.

Stability was ripped out from underneath me.

I was an addict and alcoholic by the age of twenty. I found solace in drugs and alcohol despite the fact they almost killed me. I became sicker, more unstable, than I ever had been. My life was defined by More, Now and Again.

Mental Health Recovery - Finding Your Way Out of the Darkness of Mental Illness

I am twenty-six years old now, clean and sober, stable, and dare I say: content.

The intention of this first post is certainly not to describe my life in its entirety, but to explain why I am writing a blog on recovering from mental illness. I had to fall, hard and fast, to find my way here. To be able to write these words in the hopes that people will read them and that we can connect.

Being diagnosed with a mental illness,regardless of age, is often daunting, and full of darkness. Full of fear.

However, it does not have to be that way. Finding your way out of darkness is possible. Recovery is possible. We cannot assume that all of those diagnosed with a mental illness can recover in the same way and with the same tools, but we can, with the correct knowledge and support, positively change our lives. Mental illness can be a terribly lonely disease. It stands beside you, and it is hard to shake. It is part of you, but it is not you.

Recovery in my life is defined by many things: a constant awareness of my mood, a consistent medication regime, exercise and diet. The list is extensive and sometimes, if I am to be honest, exhausting.

Acceptance is a large part of recovery: just as the addict must accept they are an addict, a person with a mental illness must understand that life will not always be stable (instability is, in part, the human condition), but it can be full of happiness and grace.

It took me a long time to recognize that my illness, my addiction, did not define me as a person. Five years ago, I never would have believed that I would be writing this blog: that I would be comfortable just being me, regardless of my experience, of my life.

Recovery is a wonderful, though sometimes painful, process. The pain of recovery reminds you that you are alive and is proof that life might start to make sense now. It is the light at the end of the tunnel that we cannot always find.

Once found, we can claim it as our own.

Let's discuss it.

What is your definition of recovery and what has led you to where you are in your life?



APA Reference
Jeanne, N. (2011, August 15). Thoughts on Mental Health Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 18 from

Author: Natalie Jeanne Champagne

Paul Shtogryn
February, 9 2013 at 6:20 am

Weening myself off of meds for 30 years and not being hospitalized for 45 consecutive years is my idea of mental health recovery!All this & I too went back to finish high school & go to college as Canada's 1st successful adolescent ward discharge when it was still in its infamacy though I was seriously misdiagnosed.

August, 23 2013 at 7:51 pm

Hello. I know you're leaving this blog, but i just started reading your posts. And i can just...... relate? Your words also about it not defining you rings loud right now. So thank you and i do look forward to reading more! I also want to be a mental health advocate one day. I'm 31, have been diagnosed bipolar since 20. As well as BPD in my early 20s. And have been through so much in that time in and out of hospitals, meds, therapy, everything. I cant imagine all of that going to waste. I want to be able to share and help others! So you are an inspiration to me for many many reasons! Thank you and take care on the next step of your journey!

August, 24 2013 at 1:14 pm

Sorry you're leaving. I always want to hear what you have to say. I have two sons and I have depression. I head up the NAMIMaury County Tennessee. Visit our page. Good luck!!

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