According to the National Advisory Mental Health Council, the treatment success rate for bipolar disorder is a remarkable 80 percent. The recovery rates for other serious mental illnesses follow suit with major depression showing 65-80 percent, schizophrenia 60 percent, and addiction 70 percent. I’ve always said that you’ll never fully recover from true trauma or tragedy; you just learn to move forward and maintenance your recovery. Don’t get me wrong that doesn’t mean you’ll advance to the level of graduation however you can always look at your progression to help continue to navigate through life to bring you a better future. The same rule applies as your walking through being diagnosed with a mental illness. Diagnosis doesn’t define a person and as that person manages in recovery they will find going forward will not eliminate their illness however they will gain a better understanding and lessen the stigma in their own minds and others around them. This is extremely powerful during the recovery process for a person to gain true acceptance for themselves; as acceptance allows the taking away of guilt, embarrassment, and shame allowing a person to grow into a better future in life understanding true identity and personality.
There are some simple assignments, exercises, steps and basic resources one can use on their way to a successful road to maintenance in recovery. Here are a few snippets of information that’s been extremely helpful in my journey:
- Make sure you are attending all your scheduled appointments with your professional case manager, psychologist, and support groups – even if sometimes you might not feel that particular meeting will be beneficial to attend still stay committed as it will give yourself and others the mindset that you’re doing the work moving forward managing your recovery. These efforts and hard work will give you tangible milestones to fall back on through the tough days knowing that you’re making the effort. A great confidence builder!
- Recovery and Maintenance Plan is an awesome handout you can create for yourself. Much like a business owner would develop a business plan for their business the same can be done for your recovery plan. This is a handout that can be created by you for yourself and to pass out to others in your inner circle allowing them to have insight into your plan for development in recovery. I encourage you to research and create a recovery plan that is helpful for you. Here is a list of example topics that I have personally used;
1) List and define your risk factors and why they are risk factors for you.
2) List a minimum of 10 strengths that you do well and try to apply them on a weekly basis.
3) Keep a list of your medications knowing which medications you need to take and which ones you need to stay away from.
4) Identify and list stressors, triggers and important dates that may have increased symptoms in your life.
5) A list of strategies that you’ve used in the past to help you decrease symptoms.
6) List of counselors, treatment facilities, names, addresses and phone numbers of whom and where you are being treated.
7) Write down your short and long term goals – minimum 6 months to beyond.
8) List people in your support team their roles and contact information. Remember this plan is a blue print in recovery and can always be adjusted for your comfort as you maintain. Please create a recovery plan that is good for you.
- Build a stability toolbox! This is a list of tools, strategies and skills you need to use on a daily basis to help keep you focused on being well along with helping feel better and relieve troubling symptoms. Look up and research each area of interest to help build your stability toolbox; emotion regulation, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, core mindfulness, and cognitive skills.
- Write out a safety plan. This is a written plan in place that you would have available for yourself, family and supporters when or if an emergency arise. Also, this will be a great resource in case of travel and away from your states facilities. Some of the topics included in your safety plan can be:
1) Personal Warning Signs and coping techniques.
2) What resources needed to implement when out of pocket
3) What are my triggers
4) Medication and what to do of loss of medication
5) Write a updated current list of supporters, friends and relatives 6) Travel itinerary plans and emergency contact facilities in that local area.
Lastly, I would like to finish by saying that some of this information is just scratching the surface on techniques, ideas, and tools you can use to help in the recovery process. There are other tools to use such as diary cards, journaling, mindfulness, group therapy and much more. For the undiagnosed person or people who live without a mental illness this may seem a bit complicated but to the diagnosed person when applied it can become a safe haven and a format to success. It becomes very easy for them because they live it everyday!