Background Intensive care unit survivors face many physical and psychological difficulties during their recovery following discharge from hospital. These difficulties can significantly affect their quality of life. Healthcare providers and survivors' families often do not understand what recovery means in this population, which may affect the support provided. Aim To consider the potential of the biographical method in helping to create stories that illustrate recovery in intensive care survivors and other populations. Discussion This paper identifies how the biographical approach has provided survivors with a way to uncover the hidden parts of their lives through diaries and interviews, and reveal the hidden stories of intensive care survivorship and recovery. Conclusion The application of the biographical method enabled stories to be created that identified the disruption survivors encounter as they struggle to appear recovered. Implications for practice The biographical method can illuminate experiences uncaptured by other methods. This insight into recovery journeys can help healthcare practitioners and family members to understand and recognise the need for support during recovery.