"Anyone familiar with mental illness knows that recovery is not a singular event, but a multi-dimensional, multi-linear journey characterized more by the mindset of the one taking it than by his or her condition at any given moment along the way.
"Understanding recovery as having several dimensions makes its uneven course easier to accept. Much as we don't blame the cancer patient for dying of invasive tumors, we can't condemn a consumer whose symptoms overtake his or her best efforts to manage illness."
These lines I've quoted here are from NAMI's (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) website. (http://www.nami.org/) I like the second part of the first paragraph in particular. It means that every individual is unique and the path that one person with mental illness takes in their attempt to recover, will be different from that of another. You cannot lump all people who have a single diagnosis together and expect that the illness will define their actions and progress in the same way. Progress is instead, determined by personality: each person's environment, faith or lack thereof, level of motivation, education, family situation: in short, all the things that comprise every person's personality and ability to reach his or her goals.
And the second paragraph is equally true. Recovery is a bumpy road...with many detours. And speaking as someone who has frequently thought, "Hmmm, I'm doing pretty well now," only to, days later, find myself hospitalized again; I have found myself facing frequent discouragement. And now I find that my family also experiences hope alternating with despair and disillusionment. I know that they try (most of the time with success) to not give optimism a place in their hearts because frankly, it just hurts too much to be disappointed AGAIN. But when they give up on me, it only makes it harder for me to keep striving for a goal that can seem unobtainable. When I come up with new ambitions or new ideas for undertakings that I want to attempt to accomplish; they frequently discourage me from getting my hopes up. I know that this is not really a manifestation of their lack of faith in my abilities and talents, but more, a statement of their awareness of the severity of my illness.
But I would like to say a word to you families and friends of the mentally ill. Remember: your family member or friend is an individual, not a diagnosis. And the higher you help them to aim, the higher they will shoot. This doesn't mean that there will not be disappointments and setbacks. But do not give up! Your loved one will sense very clearly that you no longer believe in them or in their abillity to overcome...and will stop trying. And if they are a follower of God, you must remember that "Greater is He who is in" them, than their diagnosis!
Determine to be an encourager. Determine to be willing to have setbacks. Determine to expose yourself to the risks of HOPE.... and when there are failures; determine to be a comforter and then to re-instill in the "consumer" (to borrow the language of NAMI), the motivation to go on...even if they have to use some of YOUR faith in them while they try to rebuild their own faith in themselves. Cling to the God of Hope and ask Him to fill you with that resource, when you run out of your own supply. He will do it!