Truly Remarkable: A personal account of the impact of Remarkable Lives
I have had the pleasure of becoming very well-acquainted with the Remarkable Lives series. Over lockdown last year, myself and Professor Carson began to review the then-20 students' accounts that had appeared. Since then, we have published a paper (Hurst & Carson, 2021) and have another in preparation. All in all, I have studied 36 of these recovery narratives in great detail. This is something that I consider a privilege, as the stories contained within their pages are breath-taking.
In looking at these accounts, we were attempting to understand what it was that made recovery possible for these 36 people. Our starting point was the CHIME model of recovery (Leamy et al., 2011), which suggests that there are five important dimensions for a person on a recovery journey to have in place – Connectedness, Hope and optimism, Identity, Meaning and purpose, and Empowerment. We have found evidence of all of these in each account, and in our reviews have detailed the varied and unique ways that these factors appear in the accounts.
We also tried to see what other themes emerged from the texts; what other elements were important in recovery. In our first review, we particularly noticed that parenthood and the benefits of education were ideas that came up time and again. In our second review (still in progress), creativity was the most profound emerging theme. If we consider gaining a BSc to require creativity (as I certainly do), then creativity has been a key feature of recovery across every single Remarkable Lives account. This has led to us making the suggestion that perhaps CHIME should be updated to include creativity as C-CHIME (Carson & Hurst, 2021).
This shows the benefit that the Remarkable Lives series can serve in an academic context – first, it gave validity to the existing CHIME model, before further analysis showed that perhaps there is more work to be done on it!
However, the main value of these accounts is definitely their emotional content. I have shed tears of anguish and tears of joy whilst reading them, such is the power that they hold. We attempted to honour this within our reviews by including a section on the “Distilled Remarkableness” of each person who has featured in the series. We acknowledge that not everybody reading the review articles will have time to go off and read all 36 individual accounts, so we wanted to give readers the essence of what made each individual remarkable. Indeed, all are remarkable in that they have had the courage to forge a recovery journey for themselves and share that story with the world. However, each has also made a unique contribution to the world, either in their local communities, or on an international scale. Each of them is incredibly, uniquely remarkable. I hope that you will go off and experience some of them for yourself.
University of Bolton, UK
Carson, J. and Hurst, R. (2021), “Mental health nursing and recovery: the C-CHIME model”, British Journal of Mental Health Nursing, Vol. 10 No. 2, pp. 1-3. https://doi.org/10.12968/bjmh.2021.0011
Hurst, R. and Carson, J. (2021), "For whom the bell CHIMEs: a synthesis of remarkable student lives", Mental Health and Social Inclusion, Vol. 25 No. 2, pp. 195-207. https://doi.org/10.1108/MHSI-10-2020-0071
Leamy, M., Bird, V., Le Boutillier, C., Williams, J. and Slade, M. (2011), “Conceptual framework for personal recovery in mental health: systematic review and narrative synthesis”, The British Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 199 No. 6, pp. 445-452. http://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.bp.110.083733