Resilience and Mental Illness: The Long Road to Recovery

Resilience and mental illness

Mental illness can be a devastating load to carry.  The ability to bounce back enables sufferers to survive with strength and courage. Resilience and mental illness are inextricably linked.

According to the thesaurus, the word resilience has two meanings.

1. The capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress. Reslience  and mental illness, therefore, is the ability to go back into one’s original shape when mental illness is present.

We are all subject to life challenges.  Relationships, money, health, and family issues can rise up to complicate our lives and steal our joy.  Emotions run frazzled leaving us feeling diminished by our problems.  When this happens there is a need to recover balance by incorporating those skills likely to bring us back to center.

2. An ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. Adjusting to a mental illness is one of the most challenging tasks one can imagine. It takes persistence,

resourcefulness, diligence, and resilience. Resilience and mental illness and recovery go hand in hadn.


I have taken the liberty of asking linkedin connections to contribute their ideas on what constitutes resilience and mental illness.

Holley Kendrick: “Resilience is the ability to live life on its terms without allowing it to destroy our ability to feel joy. The most important skill for doing this is the ability to empathize with others and to stay in the moment, and not remain a victim of past injustices. Perhaps it is even the ability to learn from negativity in our lives.”

Linda Cucher: “ Providing there is a reasonably solid foundation to begin with, I would say the  ability to “bounce back” after serious life stressors…disappointment, loss or trauma defines resilience. Flexibility and adaptability within the personality structure, plus a good support system is helpful. A strong spiritual belief and/or an ultimate purpose and meaning in one’s life informs what one bounces back to after a severe life-knock…that’s key.” Resilience and mental illness are coupled in the process of recovery.

Vanda North: “From my Father’s architectural background, I grew up with the definition: Resilience = the ability to absorb the load, deform and return to original form. Stressors are always there, sometimes we show the strain and then having a coping strategy like the 8 minute routine of Mind Chi gives you the resilience – the ability to bounce back! We all need to be as resilient as we can! When it comes to mental illness, resilience and mental illness are a dynamic pair.

Sandra Debraparshads:  “Two concepts are central to any psychological stress theory: appraisal and coping. Appraisal is the ,individuals’ evaluation of the significance of what is happening for their well-being, and coping involves efforts in thought and action to manage specific demands (cf. Lazarus 1993). I like Lazarus and Selye’s theories of coping. I remembered in nursing school, I had a professor who would say about resilience:  “it is the individual’s ability to rally the environment” and their perception of what is “happening” to them.

Thank you Linda Cucher, Linda Holley Kendrick, and Sandra Debraparshads for your contributions.

If you are someone you know is suffering from major depression, showing signs of depression, is manic depressive, or is looking for how to deal with depression please subscribe to Barb’s blog. She has advice on such topics as, coping with depression, teen depression, anxiety and depression, depression in children,  and other types of depression disorders. You can visit her website at


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If you have any questions about depression, anxiety, or psychosis, feel free to contact me at or at 314-962-5324


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