For those of you who are not in the behavioral health field, you may be surprised to learn that the term “Recovery” refers not just to addiction issues but also mental health issues. As someone who works in the field and also has a sister diagnosed as having Bipolar Disorder, understanding the concepts of the Recovery Model has been an encouragement to me. I can distinctly remember getting a phone call while I was in one of my grad school classes telling me that my sister had been hospitalized due to her mental illness. This wasn’t the first time she was hospitalized, and the weight of my fear and grief hung off of me like an oversized coat. I can remember standing outside during my break from class, staring at the grass, and realizing that for all her gifts, talents, hopes and dreams, my sister would always struggle with a profound mental illness.
September is National Recovery Month sponsored by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). I could think of no better way to honor this month than to write about my own Dad's recovery from alcoholism. One of my earliest memories is the sound of ice cubes clinking in a glass as I lay in bed and my Dad walked down the hallway past my room. He always had a glass in his hand. I was too young to understand that there was usually scotch or vodka in there, but I did know that his mood became darker and angrier the more he drank.