Recovery is a life-long journey.  It has lots of twists and turns, high hills and low valleys.  It is non-linear, and sometimes, you might feel you’re going backwards.  Recovery is highly personal:  what works for me may not work for you and vice versa.  It also works the other way around.  What works for me, may work for you, so we should always keep trying.  Recovery happens, but it doesn’t happen on our timeline.  It happens in its own way, as long as we keep at it.  It’s a very personal process.

Recovery should be planned around our own strengths, needs, and abilities.  It should be focused on the positive.  What am I good at?  What do I enjoy doing?  What do I need to do?  All people, regardless of diagnosis, are capable of learning, relearning, and growing.  It takes a while, sometimes a long time and several tries, to change old habits.

So, no matter how crappy we may feel about the future, please believe me, that we can recover.  It is not a one-day fix, even though after one therapy session we might feel really good.  So hang in tough, it’s a journey.  Enjoy it.  It’s a life-long ride.  At first it’s like a roller coaster, but with time and practice, it gets smoother and better.

First, I would like to make the disclaimer that this does not replace the advise and decisions your doctors make.  And that you should continue to do what they tell you and continue to take your medications as directed, as this is always very important.

In the beginning stages of mental health recovery, you REALLY need to follow what the doctors tell you to do.  Just because you have reached crisis for the first time (or 20th), and have landed in the hospital or the psychiatrist’s office and are not sure why you’re there.  But once you find out why you’re there and are feeling a little bit more like yourself, it’s time to be in charge.

Now, being in charge, does not mean that you make all the final decisions.  It means that you are an important partner in your own recovery decisions, which means that it is time to do some research.  A good first step is doing some research on your specific diagnosis, so you understand what the doctors think is going on with you.  Once you understand what the doctors think is going on with you, you can agree or disagree with the diagnosis, and have an honest conversation about your specific symptoms.  This will ensure that you are being treated for the right thing, as many mental illnesses overlap with each other.

Once you have this conversation, it’s time to figure out your next step.  This can be very daunting, as there are literally a myriad of programs, medications, therapies, etc, that you could go to.  So, having an honest conversation with your therapist, social worker, or doctor, who (probably) knows your case best, will help you decide what is next.

The most important part of being in charge of your mental health recovery is to be committed to your health, yourself, and your options.  Without this commitment, it will be very hard to be in charge of your recovery.

All this said, I wish you the best in your recovery!

As a sufferer of fibromyalgia, I have learned the importance of exercise to keep well.  However, I have also learned that overdoing it (which can be easy) can also have its negative consequences.  So is with stress.  A little bit of stress is not so bad.  And there is the kind of stress that is positive, too.  But too much stress has its negative consequences, just like too much of a good thing.

I won’t go into the details on how bad too much stress can be for you.  I’m pretty sure we are all familiar with them… high blood pressure, relapse of mental illness, heart disease…  However, there are things you can do to manage some of the stress.

One of the techniques I have used successfully is to plan and divide and conquer.  Sure, you can’t always plan in advance, because you can’t predict the future.  However, there are some things that you know will likely happen (for example, you got engaged, you will likely get married within a year or two. Or wife is pregnant.  You will likely become a father within 9 months.  You can plan around that.).  And for most other situations, though you can’t necessarily plan in advance, you can take some time after identifying the stressful event and plan around it.

The important thing is to break it down into smaller, manageable chunks that you can handle at your own pace, or at least at a reasonable pace.

When you start seeing the world at manageable chunks, the world ceases to be an emergency and a crisis.  It sure does take some getting used to, but another thing you will find when you start dividing and conquering, is that life isn’t the catastrophe that we make it out to be on a daily basis.

Same thing with exercise for fibromyalgia.  Instead of running 5 miles in one day and then suffering for a week because you overdid it, break it down to a mile a day for 5 days with two days rest for the week.  Same goal, different approach.  The latter more effective than the former!