In my last post I wrote about giving a speech at Amy Bovaird’s Disability inSights seminar, and in this week’s post I am writing about the topic I covered in my speech. I talked about the steps to recovery. I’m not an expert or a professional in the field of mental health, but these are steps I learned through my own experiences and through my fight for recovery. It’s hard when you are ill to think your life could ever get better, but it can.
My recovery process stretched over several years, and it was an up and down process. It’s not an easy task, but it is worth the fight. Use these steps as guidance towards your recovery, and maybe think up some of your own steps.
Below are the steps I used to reach recovery.
- The first step is to admit you’re sick. You can’t get better unless you admit you have an illness. If you continue to go on in denial you’ll only sink deeper into your dark hole. It took me a while to admit to anyone that there was something wrong. I kept lying to my family, friends, and myself that I was not ill. When I finally confided in my mother about my illness, I was able to start my journey toward recovery.
- The second step is to want to get better. No one can help you unless you want to get better. The saying, “You can’t help those who won’t help themselves” is true. In order to want to get better you have to be willing to help yourself. I told my mom I wanted to end the pain, agony, and sadness within me. I didn’t want to live like that anymore. My mom went on a search to find me the right therapist and in therapy I worked hard.
- The third step is to ask for help. In order to get better you have to ask for help. Like any illness you need professionals to help you find the right medication and to counsel you. You can’t fight this battle on your own. In my first struggle my mother helped me find a therapist and the therapist helped me get a psychiatrist. When I fell down the dark hole for the second time, I went through a program at work that helped me find a therapist and psychiatrist. I had to go through different therapists and psychiatrists until I found the ones that worked best for me. Once I did, I was able to begin to work on changing my thought processes, and my psychiatrist looked for the right medication that worked for me.
- The fourth step is to be determined to fight. You can’t reach recovery unless you put all of you into it. Fighting mental illness will be one of the hardest battles you ever fight, and you have to give it your all. After I was hospitalized, I decided I wanted to live a normal life and I was willing to do whatever it took to reach it. It was a harsh and painful fight. I had to change my whole thinking process, I had to let go of unhealthy relationships, I had to battle racing thoughts, and I had to change how I thought about myself. It took all of my will power and determination to reach recovery.
- The fifth step is to research your illness. Once you get a diagnosis of your illness, do research. Go to the library, go online, check on Amazon and go to book stores to find information on your illness and self-help books. When I found out I had depression, anxiety disorder, self-injury, and Borderline Personality Disorder, I went online and started to look up my illnesses. Then I went to book stores and found self-help books. Researching my illness helped me understand my life. Many things I did as a child and many things I struggled with for years finally had a reason. Knowing and understanding my sickness helped me take the right steps to getting better. It helped me understand what was happening within me.
- The sixth step is to build a support system. You need more than professionals to help you with your journey. You need friends and family members who you can turn to, who can support you, and who can encourage you. These must be people willing to learn about the type of mental illness you have and they must be positive. My parents, especially my mom, have always stood at my side even though at times I was hard to handle. They have always been encouraging. I could always confide in my mom and still can. When I was at my worst, I called my best friend Cheryl at any time and she would talk to me for hours until she was sure I was fine. My husband went to couple therapy with me while we were dating to learn how he could help me. He gets me through many tough times. I also have various other friends I can lean on like my good friends Amy and Kelly who are always positive and encouraging.
Use these steps to help guide you to recovery. I want to urge all who are suffering with mental illness to fight for recovery. Recovery is not a cure, but it is a chance to take control of your illness and live a happy, productive, and meaningful life. It is possible. It’s a battle worth putting all of your willpower and determination into. Go now and take the steps to fight and win control over this awful sickness. You can do it!
It took me years of ups and downs to reach recovery, but no matter what, I never gave up. I followed these steps and I have been in the light of recovery for several years. I do have bad days, but I know how to handle them. I’m standing in the light for the world to see that recovery is possible.