What are we recovering from? #bipolar #anxiety #grief

Full recovery?

People have always recovered from mood disorders. We get anxious then get less anxious. We feel exhausted, then after a rest feel energetic again.

Is it fair to talk of ‘full recovery’? Does anyone ever fully recover? Maybe it all depends on what we believe we are recovering from?

For thousands of years it was considered normal for moods to vary throughout each day. During the 20th century a new idea formed that any more than small changes in mood were a sign of illness. By 1980 this idea allowed the new diagnosis/label of bipolar disorder. Gradually the meaning of bipolar has expanded such that only those whose moods hardly change at all can be sure of not being described as bipolar.

If we step back from the idea of most of us having mood disorder and think about what caused our moods to appear disordered, then by tackling the causes we can expect to recover. If, in our minds, we can very nearly eliminate the original cause then we can very nearly eliminate its effects on our moods.

For example, after a relative died I saw a psychiatrist. I had never met him before. After our 50 minute meeting he wrote to my GP to say that in his opinion I was suffering a mood disorder and in his opinion I was a catatonic schizophrenic. I got over my relative dying (I just have a little cry now and then) but getting over a label like catatonic schizophrenic takes a lot longer. It is a shame the psychiatrist was not able to simply write that I was grieving.

Full recovery used to be defined as being able to get back to what you used to do. Theses days I wonder if it is more about being able to move on to what you want and need to be doing.

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