Benj: what recovery means to me

21st February 2018

Benj from See Me Scotland reflects on mental health treatment, service provision, and luck, to explore what recovery means to him.

Recovery wasn’t the worst of it

Even if it involved explaining to that perfectly pleasant and non-plussed doctor
If I have to endure double what I already have I will die
That, no, I cannot wait 4 more weeks on blind faith that I will habituate;
That as chemicals begin to regulate
I will no longer think…
Those thoughts

It involved having to listen again and again to that doctor tell me to
Join a gym or go for a walk, just do! more! exercise!
Because there’s nothing for you here
Try elsewhere
With that assured and arrogant manner of his
That reckless confidence and

It involved group-based CBT on the evenings I’d set aside for local Sagres and football
Pathetic gratefulness for scraps of friendship and kindness
Feeling like I’m better than these people,
I’m worse than these people
I don’t belong

It involved overwhelming gratitude to be listened to:
To have a problem acknowledged;
Concerns accepted;
Life circumstances considered.

It involved so much more than this.

Recovery means watching Girls
And accepting Lena Dunham’s white privilege as mine, diluted
It means accepting that I’ve only recovered,
However gracefully, however cyclically,
Because I have safety nets to catch me:
A decent education, financial means, a supportive family
Somewhere to stay; elsewhere to turn

Recovery wasn’t the worst of it
After the deserts of absent and squandered opportunities.
Who recovers and who doesn’t is inequality writ large.
Often it’s not particularly biological:
It’s relational or socioeconomic; structural straitjackets, prospect poverty…;
Society’s burden foisted onto the shoulders of individuals
To weigh them down alongside their families and communities.


Read other contributions to the ‘what recovery means to me’ series