The Scottish Recovery Network’s Write to Recovery project encourages participants to take ownership of their lives by writing stories which can then be published on the Write to Recovery website. In doing so, participants are empowered to experience recovery from mental health issues in their own way, and to take control over how they depict this journey through their writing.

The project is based in Glasgow, but covers the whole of Scotland. Users can either access the website directly or participate in eight-week courses, such as the one run by RAMH in Paisley. Each of the eight sessions focusses on a different theme of recovery, and the Scottish Recovery Network is currently working towards training people in other areas to provide similar courses.

At the taster session given at Declaration, participants were led through ice-breaking exercises towards group discussions as to what the term recovery means to different people. It was interesting how varied the answers were. Recovery suggests in itself a journey of improvement or return to health. But then, what exactly is health? For some participants, taking ownership of their own stories means taking control of their right to health, and their own health (both before, during and after the process of recovery) was something they felt they wished to define, rather than have defined for them by others.

For example, more than one participant spoke of having been told, during periods of illness: ‘You’ll soon be back to your old self again.’ But this only made them realise that they didn’t necessarily wish to return to their ‘old self’. The experience of illness, and the process of recovery, had changed them – it wasn’t their old, pre-illness self that they wished to regain; they wanted instead to move forwards into a new phase of life in which they confidently took possession of their own perception of who they are, and what their own state of health is now.

These discussions led to participants working briefly on pieces that explored each individual’s reaction to notions of recovery. In doing so, I found a renewed sense of the efficacy of writing in helping one to fathom and understand one’s own thoughts, in this case with regard to recovery and the right to health.

It was Flannery O’Connor who once wrote (although similar quotes have been attributed to other writers): ‘I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.’ The Write to Recovery project encourages people in a positive and creative way to use writing as means by which to discover exactly what they think about their own unique roads to recovery, to take ownership of their own lives and stories, and to realise what this means in terms of their continuing and rightful pursuit of health.

by Mark Jones

 

The Scottish Recovery Network aims to promote and support recovery from mental health problems. Find out more about their Write to Recovery project and read some of the published stories on the website