Angela McCrimmon, author of “Can You Hear Me Now? Finding My Voice In A System That Stole It”, tells us what recovery means to her.
I had to stop and still my mind to think of 5 things that recovery means to me. Simply because I can actually think of 500! If I had been asked to write this article 12 months ago it would have been a very very different story. A story of struggle, desperation and severe self-destruction. Every night I closed my eyes and prayed I wouldn’t wake up in the morning and every morning when I opened my eyes I was instantly filled with dread and fear of knowing that somehow I had to get through another day. Therefore I can confidently say that my first part of what recovery means to me is that when I close my eyes at night I now thank God for another day and in the morning I wake up with excited anticipation of what the day will bring.
Another part of recovery for me is ensuring I take my medication every day as when I was unwell it was one of the first things I lost track of. Sometimes I thought I was “cured” and didn’t need my medication anymore which I soon learned was a disastrous conclusion to come to. Taking my medication properly has given me the stability to engage in self-management things with various groups to help me increase my self-awareness so that I can recognise if I’m getting unwell and seek help before I reach a crisis point.
Helping others is a huge part of maintaining my recovery. When I was sectioned in hospital I promised myself that if I survived I was going to come back fighting with everything I’ve got and I have certainly kept my promise. I campaign for mental health, teach health professionals from the lived experience side of things, speak at various conferences and am so proud but humbled to say I have just won a Local Hero Award for the work I’m doing in mental health. Some of the self-management groups I participated in I am now helping to facilitate.
Another important part of my recovery is that I now have healthy, positive relationships with the mental health professionals involved in my care. At one point a Psychiatrist admitted they thought I didn’t want to get well and I was horrified! I wanted nothing more than to get well but I was so misunderstood. I have a new Psychiatrist now who has taken the time to get to know me as a person and not just a diagnosis. I feel comfortable and trusting in her care and having this therapeutic relationship allows me to reach out for help if needed which is something I would never have done before.
Last but not least and hoping I don’t sound dramatic, I honestly feel that writing poetry is saving my life. Words that have been locked up inside are finally coming out and whenever I feel something that strikes a chord in my heart I put pen to paper. The biggest reflection of my recovery to date is I’ve published a book about my journey through the mental health system. From years of nobody listening to me I called it “Can You Hear Me Now? Finding My Voice In A System That Stole It”
This blog was also posted on the Scottish Recovery Network website. Angela decided to write it after attending our Blogging About Recovery workshop.