There is no definitive definition of what personal recovery means because it is unique to each person. It can overcome obstacles, build resilience and resourcefulness to embrace with positivity all of the possibilities in life without being burdened by the labels and stigma associated with mental health diagnosis.
The most widely cited definition of personal recovery was written by Bill Anthony (1993):
'a deeply personal, unique process of changing one's attitudes, values, feelings, goals, skills and/or roles. It is a way of living a satisfying, hopeful, and contributing life even with limitations caused by the illness. Recovery involves the development of new meaning and purpose in one's life as one grows beyond the catastrophic effects of mental illness. Recovery from mental illness involves much more than recovery from the illness itself.'
Rachel Perkins states:
'Recovery is…a personal journey of discovery: making sense of, and finding meaning in what has happened; discovering your own resources, resourcefulness and possibilities; building a new sense of self, meaning and purpose in life; growing within and beyond what has happened to you; and pursuing your dreams and ambitions'. (2012)
Personal recovery - recovering a life worth living - is about building a satisfying, fulfilling, and enjoyable life. A good life is about a balance between what you must do and what you want to do. It's about taking control and becoming an expert in your own wellbeing and recovery and moving on with the life you choose.
The keywords are unique and personal. At the heart of personal recovery is hope. Hope helps to maintain motivation to be able to forge forward, believing recovery is not only possible but is inevitable. As Perkins and Anthony say, it's about developing new meaning and allowing creative discovery.