As someone who takes language very seriously, recovery is a bit of an interesting word.  A dictionary definition of recovery suggests that one is recovering back to a previous healthier state of being.  However, many people do not have much to recover back to, as their lives have been filled with mostly horror.  And then there are those of us who don’t believe we are recovering from anything, that our altered states and emotional distress are just a part of being human.

I think when we use the word recovery now we are actually creating our own definition that looks more like a wellness journey.  The great thing about focusing more on wellness is that wellness applies to all human beings.  It is my belief that altered states and emotional distress are human experiences, and we have a lot to learn from them about what it takes to stay well as a society.  The following poem I wrote in response to a person with lived experience who did not believe that “recovery” is real.  I’m happy to say she believes in recovery now.



By Oryx Cohen


Recovery means waking up and looking forward to the day ahead.

Recovery is having something meaningful to do with your life.

Recovery is hugging somebody you love.

Recovery is smiling at a complete stranger.

Recovery is giving your co-workers compliments.

Recovery is feeling good about yourself.

Recovery is eating healthy, wholesome food.

Recovery is exercising.

Recovery is yoga.

Recovery is golf.

Recovery is basketball.

Recovery is truly enjoying the things you enjoy.

Recovery is friendship.

Recovery is feeling a part of a community.

Recovery is creativity.

Recovery is having a healthy body free from toxic chemicals.

Recovery is enjoying fresh air and nature.

Recovery is reading a powerful book.

Recovery is getting the sleep and rest you need.

Recovery is laughter.

Recovery is melting with a baby’s joyful eyes and playful spirit.

And maybe most importantly, recovery ALWAYS occurs in relationship:  with friends, family, lovers, the environment, with spirit, with Nature.

Recovery takes effort, does not happen in a box, with a magic bullet, or a magic pill.  Ultimately, recovery is a lifelong process of finding our true spiritual path.



Oryx Cohen, M.P.A. – Oryx is a leader in the international consumer/survivor/ex-patient movement and the Director of the National Empowerment Center’s Technical Assistance Center. He is featured in Agnes’s Jacket, a book by Gail Hornstein, where he and fellow Freedom Center co-founder Will Hall are compared to the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Oryx is also a board member of the Hearing Voices Network USA and an Emotional CPR trainer.


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