Recovery, how do we define Recovery? The dictionary defines Recovery as “a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.”. From this definition if one was to become injured, let’s say, broke an arm. Having, the arm reset, cast, allowed six to eight weeks to heal with some therapy, the expectation would be a Recovery from the injury. Another definition of Recovery is “the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.”. Let’s say we misplaced a cell phone and later in the day it was found. By this definition we would say it had been Recovered.

What if, when the cell phone was found, the phone case was missing? Could we still say that this was a Recovery? The cell phone can function without a case, to the user it may not feel compete. There would likely be a feeling of loss for the missing case, accepting it’s absence and continuing to use the cell phone is Recovery.
What if after the break, the arm had healed, but there was numbness in the fingers? Could we describe this as a Recovery? With training and practice, functional mobility can be achieved in extremities with disrupted sensitivity. Acceptance of the loss of sensitivity and working with the available mobility is Recovery.

The definition for Recovery is much more difficult to define than two phrases found in a dictionary. Recovery for everyone that has experienced loss or trauma is different. What that Recovery looks like and how it is managed is as unique to the survivors as the trauma or loss they experienced.

The way one person accepts the loss of a loved one is going to be different from another person, even if they share the same loss. They each had their own personal history and memories of the one they lost. Survivors of loss grieve in different ways and at different paces, this will have an impact on their Recovery. Through the process of accepting loss, what Recovery looks like changes often.

Regaining control is vital to Recovery. Having control over one’s decisions and direction gives us self worth.
Purchasing a new case for a lost cell phone, changes the Recovery process, gives control to the survivor to Move Forward.
A single parent with two young children returns to school to further their education. The parent is taking control of their family’s future, this is their Recovery.
Accepting treatment for addiction is an opportunity for survival. A soldier asks for help with PTSD. Asking for help pulls the soldier into the light and away from the darkness. Leaving an abusive relationship starts a journey to self worth. Recovery isn’t always about physical healing. Taking control and seeking treatment for Psychological injuries is Recovery.

Often Recovery can be complicated to define. Sometimes the scope of a trauma can be complicated. When an injury has several different symptoms, Recovery of each symptom would differ.
Someone surviving a head concussion would likely have many symptoms as a result of the injury. Most often these symptoms stay with the survivors for the remainder of their lives. Recovery can still be achieved, not to the dictionary definition of Recovery, but to a Recovery that would give the survivor back a level of control lost in the injury. Memory loss is a common symptom with brain injuries. Journaling the day’s events or past memories allows the survivors to review moments they experienced that may be lost to them. Organizing information and events into a calendar can help survivors reduce anxiety with memory challenges. Although the memory may not return to what it was before the injury, survivors can have Recovery from memory loss. The use of tools and techniques to record and track events is Moving Forward in Recovery. Acceptance of the loss and Moving Forward, working with the symptoms, finding ways to manage the day to day, is Recovery.

There are three key steps to Recovery: Hope, Acceptance and Moving Forward.

HOPE comes in many forms. This could be seen as a religious or spiritual inspiration. A wish or dream. A desire for a better future. Hope is the drive for change.

ACCEPTANCE This is probably the most difficult step in any recovery. Accepting the loss of a loved one, the loss of mobility, control over one’s life or the loss of physical and psychological capabilities. This step cannot be forced, the time needed to reach acceptance is unique to each survivor.

MOVING FORWARD Without Acceptance, Moving Forward is much more difficult. Moving Forward looks different for every survivor and it looks different for every challenge the survivor is dealing with. Moving Forward may be accepting treatment or medication, it could be counselling or assisted living, prosthetic limb or walking with a cane, it could be income assistance. Moving Forward are the steps a survivor takes to Recovery and a better future.

RECOVERY is a unique journey for all survivors that is ever changing. What Recovery looks like today, may look different tomorrow. The journey to Recovery is a path the survivor has not travelled. That path will have obstacles that may be difficult to overcome and slow the journey. Moving Forward on this journey that is Recovery.

What does Recovery look like?

A woman choosing a Mastectomy to beat cancer and taking Control of her health is Recovery. An addict that accepts a hand up and treatment is Recovery. Going to physiotherapy after an accident is Recovery. Walking with a cane after hip surgery is Recovery.

Recovery can not be defined by two phrases from a dictionary. Recovery is far more complicated to define. There is Recovery from accidental injury, illness, mental health and life changing events. Recovery starts with Hope and a desire for a better future. Recovery is Accepting our challenges and a willingness to fight to overcome them. Recovery is Moving Forward, sometimes the journey is slow and takes time, often it is not without challenges. Every step down the path is a new stage in the Recovery. Although Recovery is part of the healing process, we should not assume that a survivor is healed. Recovery is a unique journey for every survivor and what that Recovery looks like is unique to every survivor. Recovery is a journey that has no completion date, It’s a journey that will need to be traveled daily.

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