Thanks to Sharon H for this great guest post on recovery and resolutions.
… And happy new year to you all. I’m praying that we will continue to know more of the Lord’s comfort and strength in the days ahead.
What is recovery?
I have lived with a mental illness (schizoaffective disorder) for all of my adult life, but I consider myself to be walking in recovery.
For me, this means being able to live at home rather than in hospital, enjoying family life, writing part time, and enjoying interacting with others in my church and community (covid regulations permitting!) It does not mean that I am fully healed or can forget that I have a mental illness – I still need to take medication and to be proactive about staying in recovery.
One formal definition of ‘recovery’ in mental health terms is; “gaining and retaining hope, understanding of one’s abilities and disabilities, engagement in an active life, personal autonomy, social identity, meaning and purpose in life, and a positive sense of self.1” (Source). So recovery could look different to different people, or even to the same person at different stages in life.
In 2005, I went on a retreat where the talks were entitled ‘FaithWorks’. The text was James 2:14-17:
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
The speaker was saying that works without faith are useless, but faith – real faith – prompts us to act. Faith works.
My experience is that recovery also works. Jesus can heal and give me grace to walk in recovery but having faith in him doesn’t take away my responsibility to do what I can to help myself stay well. I need to pray for help with maintaining my recovery and to have faith, but then I must act.
Resolving to walk in recovery
In the time since I was first diagnosed, I have learnt various strategies for managing my symptoms.
After a long year of pandemic, when many people who had never previously experienced mental health problems found themselves struggling, I have decided to share ten daily ‘recovery resolutions’ which I am making in order to maintain my recovery in 2021:
- Take my medication as prescribed.
- Make sure I get good sleep (a challenge with a young baby but not impossible with a little creativity!)
- Eat a balanced diet (with a little serotonin-boosting dark chocolate each day!)
- Get outdoors.
- Take aerobic exercise.
- Do some yoga (because coordinating breath and movement gives me a break from preoccupying thoughts!)
- Make use of my UV ‘SAD lamp’.
- Ring a friend (because there’s nothing like a good chat – social media is not enough and isn’t always healthy)
- Read my bible and take time to pray (including for my recovery)
- Keep my prayer partners updated (if you can get someone to pray for you, do – it’s been life-changing for me).
Everyone is different. You may wish to borrow from these or adapt them to suit your own circumstances…or they may not work for you at all. But do consider letting my recovery resolutions inspire you to make your own!
My prayer for each person reading this post is that – with faith and action – 2021 will indeed be a year of recovery, whatever that means to you.
Sharon is the author of ‘Wrestling With My Thoughts’, published by IVP and available here.