Your success is not defined by the goals you are unable to reach. It is not defined by the symptoms you still have or the healing you’re still pursuing.
When it comes to mental health, success is found by defining what recovery means to you and you alone. You are guaranteed to reach it—so long as you’re realistic and willing to do the work.
Recovery is diverse and unique. We all live with different mental illnesses and, even if we share the same condition, we all experience them in distinct severities. We all have access to different resources and varied supports. We each walk different journeys.
This means that there is no one-size-fits-all definition of a successful recovery. You may be cured, or you may experience the illness for the rest of your life. Both are totally valid. Even with symptoms you can live well and feel fulfilled. You can love yourself and have an incredible life. That, in my book, is success.
Your definition may be similar or totally different. It may involve being cured. It may include life-long symptoms. You might anticipate easy healing or a long road ahead. Maybe it’s totally different. Just know that, if you’re defining it from a place of self-compassion and realistic anticipation, it’s a valid version of success.
It takes a ton of stress off when you define your unique successful recovery. You’ll be living the best path for you, rather than trying to walk someone else’s journey. This path is the one that allows you to unleash all your gifts out into the world.
You will no longer compare yourself to others. You can celebrate their progress without feeling bad you haven’t gotten that far yet. Simply because you know your version of success is different.
When you stumble in recovery, you’ll be forgiving of yourself. A realistic view of recovery includes some falling back. If you have a relapse in symptoms, you will be able to handle it with grace. You will come to see that success includes these stumbles.
Whatever your mental illness is, seek a realistic version of mental health recovery you can truly reach. Ask yourself what you feel you should be doing—then break that down. See if it’s realistic, supportive, and something you can see yourself achieving.
Let yourself be inspired, but stay grounded in reality too. A successful recovery is always something you can reach. You just have to decide what that success looks like.