Frances Simpson: what recovery means to me

Frances, Chief Executive of Support in Mind Scotland, shared her own story for the Scottish Recovery Network's series to inspire hope and challenge preconceptions around mental health recovery.

Frances Simpson, who has experience of supporting a daughter with social anxiety disorder, tells us what recovery means to her.

This is a different experience for me – reflecting on life as a Wife and Mum rather than as a paid worker with a whole different set of responsibilities. So it is with some trepidation I answer the question: what does recovery mean to me?

  • It means my daughter having optimism for the future. We talk constantly of being in a process of change and taking one step at a time. Often it feels like one step forward and several back; but on those days when everything is tangled and the simplest task is overwhelmed by a dozen competing decisions, we reflect on the positive changes over the past 10 years and think about where we are and how far we have come, rather than worry about where we are going and how long that will take.
  • It means her never ceasing to be who she is – treating her as someone who needs love and understanding as an equal and not as a person who needs support – i.e. allowing the tangles to untangle themselves sometimes and not trying to fix everything all the time. A GP said to her once to stop chasing happiness but let it land like a butterfly on her shoulder – a homily I need to try to remember too.
  • It means that I need to maintain my own perspectives and not get lost in her world – so running, working hard and achieving my own goals, having time on my own when no one is asking me to do anything or make any decisions are vital.
  • It means understanding my own ‘stuff’ and not blaming myself for any of hers – how normal is it for people to question if they could have done anything differently to avoid the person having to live with what they live with? But it gets in the way of personal peace and contentment.
  • It means professionals taking this condition seriously – not judging by what they see but what they hear. That means listening and really hearing what this seemingly bright and cheerful young woman is telling them about her life. The struggle to get out of bed, the constant battle with exhaustion and low moods triggered by the seemingly trivial changes to life’s patterns. She copes – but why should that be all she can expect … just to cope. She is 25 and wants to live life to the full. Why do GP’s not understand that?
  • It means loving each other, and being a close family above all else. We all live with this condition and manage it day to day in our own ways as individuals. But it is when we come together and enjoy family time that I understand what recovery is. Having hope for the future for me, for her and for all of us starts with unconditional acceptance and understanding for who each of us is in ourselves.
This story is shared in full with permission from the Scottish Recovery Network.