Emma Goodlad: what recovery means to me

29th March 2017

Emma Goodlad, Grants and Impact Officer with the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland, tells us what recovery means to her.

Much like others, defining what recovery means to me into just five points has been a difficult task because it is so many things.

The first thing that I thought of was the fact that I have come to accept that the fog can appear at any time and especially when I have been busy.  So, it’s a case of putting up my metaphorical umbrella and weathering the storm in whatever way works best for me at that point in time.

This led me to think about how my recovery to this point has been about learning what I need and when, it’s been a massive learning curve, particularly around accepting help from others, but most importantly knowing when to ask for help. I haven’t been good at this in the past and I was scared of the reactions of others if I told them how I was really feeling. Now I know that some of the emotions and thoughts depression can cause are scary for everyone, but the alternative is scarier. I am much better at accepting help when it is offered (still not perfect, I’m stubborn and like to be independent). What I am much better at though is being honest about how I feel and actually telling people when I need help to manage my depression, even if this is something as simple as asking my Mum to phone me and tell me to get out of bed!  Bordering on 30 years old and there’s still nothing like being told to do something by my Mum to get me moving!

The above two points I think stand alone but do link into my next point which is about general acceptance. To begin to get better I had to accept my situation, and this took a while.  Even after my worst moments and an attempt on my life, it wasn’t until my GP signed me off work for 2 months that I realised and accepted just how unwell I was. It was only then that I really began to focus on my recovery. Now, acceptance is also about accepting that this is the way my life is at this point in time. It is not perfect, it is hard at times, but I no longer feel like I don’t want to be alive. It’s also about accepting that I might feel that way again, but working with my friends and family to have a plan of action if my mental health does decline again.

Next up – it’s a simple one.  I know that I am getting better when I can smile and it doesn’t hurt my cheeks every time.  My smile is genuine now, not forced.

Lastly, and I don’t think this needs much explanation – recovery is a journey.  I’m learning all the time and I don’t expect to ever know it all or ever get to ‘the end’ of my journey, life changes and therefore so will my recovery journey.