Acceptance is Vital in Mental Health Recovery

April 30, 2014 Mike Ehrmantrout

The source of much of our discomfort lies in what we find unacceptable. I’m heartbroken because I don’t want to accept that person I loved is gone forever. I’m anxious because I don’t want to accept that I might actually be safe, that no one is trying to purposely hurt me. I’m sad because I have difficulty accepting that there are actually good and lovely things in this world, as well as the bad things. I don’t want to accept that I need to be on this medication now, and maybe for life. All these things, and many more, I find unacceptable.

Acceptance of what we can, and what we can't change is important. In fact, learning acceptance in mental health recovery is vital.I fight the things I find unacceptable. The problem lies in the fact that there are universal truths that aren’t going to change, no matter how much effort we put into changing them. My mom isn’t coming back, regardless of how many times I look at the picture of her when she was healthy.

So we have a decision to make each time we’re confronted with the things we find unacceptable. We can keep trying to change the unchangeable and be continually frustrated, or we can choose to learn to accept those things we have no control over. When we embrace acceptance we’re well on our way to recovery.

Mental Health Recovery Is a Process

One thing we must learn to accept is our recovery from mental illness is not a short, snappy operation we decide to do one day and finish before bed.

Recovery is a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.

People who don’t have a history of substance abuse or mental illness might not understand that recovery is, indeed, a process. Inherent in the concept of process is the importance of time. There can be no process without time.

The process is like watching sausage being made: it’s better not to look at all.

It can get ugly. There’s both failures and victories but sometimes it feels like you’re fighting a losing battle. There might be a lot more failures than victories. We get going pretty well, then an obstacle comes along and we get pushed all the way to the beginning of recovery, or worse than we were at the beginning.

Mental Health Recovery is Like a Video Game

Recovery is like a video game that way. My boys are huge gamers, so I’ve got the plot line down: the main character must go on a journey to find something very important, something that will make things better. He is beset throughout his journey by all manner of hindrances from hungry evil creatures to boiling, bubbling, volcanic lava lakes. If he makes it near the end, he will have to fight one last epic battle with the mother of all hindrances, the dreaded final boss, a super-strong being whose sole purpose is to keep you from victory by killing you.

The Process of Change is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Runners will attest that there is a huge difference between running a marathon and running a short sprint. In the marathon, they must pace themselves and control their breathing or they won't be able to finish.

People in mental health recovery are running a marathon. Of course we know that our journey is no game. It’s a life or death struggle for our sanity. We fight every minute of every hour of every day. There is no guarantee of success. Learning to accept that our recovery is a process, and changing our thinking on things we find acceptable and not acceptable is vital to a healthy recovery.

Relapse Is Part of Mental Health Recovery

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APA Reference
Ehrmantrout, M. (2014, April 30). Acceptance is Vital in Mental Health Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 20 from

Author: Mike Ehrmantrout

August, 7 2014 at 3:51 pm

That recovery from mental illness is possible is indeed an idea that most people cannot understand. I believe their fear is that people who are in recovery from mental illness must be denying that they are 'sick'. They view mental illness as a life-sentence of being sick. Likely this is a result of pharmaceutical promotions. In my opinion once a particular episode of the illness is over one is vulnerable but not sick. 'Symptoms' can then simply be 'experiences' and one can move forward in wellness. I think people who are prone to mental illness need to understand they are not always sick. They just have to work a little harder to stay mentally well. That's what I intend to do.

May, 2 2014 at 6:18 am

maybe you're right; maybe I would finally find peace when accepting the idea of never see my children and grandchildren. but I wonder if its possible.

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