Today’s HIAS is a little different. After listening to a mental-health focused interview
with 5x Olympian Michael Phelps, I was struck by how he referred to his depression and anger as something that is “never going to be fixable.”
This pissed me off. Because if arguably the greatest athlete of all time—who also has access to unlimited resources—is unable to get to a place where he sees the possibility of his own healing, what hope does that leave for mere mortals?
I don’t fault Michael for believing that he is stuck with this forever. The dominant psychiatric and cultural narrative is that poor mental health is something out of our control, an unfortunate ailment that happens to otherwise well-adjusted people. We are told that we need to learn “coping skills” and accept that the darkness is “part of who we are.”
And sure, acceptance is the first step to recovery. But when it comes to mental health, we tend to forget about the “recovery” part. Recovery means that we get better. Even if the symptoms never fully go away, recovery allows us to break the identity formed around the ailment and stops us from—unconsciously or otherwise—using our issues as a scapegoat for all our problems.
Recovery, of course, requires significant work that frankly, most people are unwilling to do. But who can blame them when they don’t believe it’s possible to truly get better anyway? Why put in the effort for something that isn’t fixable?
This, to me, is the stigma that needs to be broken. It is in vogue to publicize struggles with mental health, but that’s not enough for me. Pointing out the problem does nothing to solve the problem. I want stories of recovery. I want the narrative to shift from cope to cure. I want people to know that it is possible.
Because I did it.
For more of my thoughts on the topic, including an overview of the strategies and techniques I used to shift from cope to cure, please listen to the IGTV video I posted a few days ago. ⤵️