Wellness can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people. It is much more than simply the presence or absence of illness. And what does wellness look like in the context of mental health?
I believe the foundation for mental wellness is strength. I have major depressive disorder, and for me an important part of recovery is rebuilding my strength. Regardless of whether or not I’m still having symptoms, I don’t consider myself to be well unless I feel strong – strong enough and resilient enough to handle the challenges that inevitably arise in life.
Rebuilding internal strength is a process, a journey, and is just as important as specifically targeting symptoms of illness. The journey towards wellness is very individual, and may not have a lot to do with the nature of the illness itself. It is a process of reflection, self-discovery, and trial and error. It is often a search for meaning and purpose, for things that we can be passionate about. Sometimes this can get lost if we focus too much on the manifestations of our illness, but if that happens we are doing ourselves a disservice.
We all deserve wellness – wellness on our own terms that gives us a reason to get up every morning.
Photo credit: Chance Agrella on Freerange