“From the edge of the abyss to the foot of the rainbow – Narrating a journey of mental health recovery” the process of a wounded researcher
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© 2017: Samantha J. Robertson, Diane Carpenter, Maggie Donovan-Hall, and Nova Southeastern University. In the UK, mental health service users are asked to “tell their stories” within clinical settings as a tool for diagnosis, formulation and treatment plans. Retelling, reliving and reflecting on traumatic and distressing experiences is not a benign activity. Yet the process of reframing lived experience within a personal narrative could support the development of: a more positive identity; self-management skills and improved social connections (Slade, 2009) and therefore contribute to mental health recovery. This is an exploration of my process as a wounded researcher in the development of a version of my narrative as an autoethnography. I developed a series of 54 vignettes that described memories of my lived experience. To start, I used memorable quotes - the voices of others within my narrative. Developing and analyzing my autoethnography was visceral. It highlighted aspects of my process (and the likely process of others) and raised many unresolved dilemmas. For example: what was left out or left unsaid and the issue of “narrative truth” (Craib, 2004); reordering the vignettes for coherence; the role of relational ethics; and the impact on my identity of this difficult on-going process. It impacted on my mental health, but it has been a crucial part of my recovery.
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