Often times we look at recovery, from any illness, and think it’s like taking your car in; you take it in, the problem/concern is determined, the mechanics solve the problem and off you go. However, recovering from a mental illness is much more different than that of a typical illness. When someone has a mental illness, the recovery process has no set date as to when they will 100% be better – mental illness is an illness when you work on your recovery each and every day.
Before someone can even begin to recover from a mental illness, the first step is to WANT to seek help. This point is the most crucial. In order for someone to seek the help they need, they must want to do it themselves. By this I mean that in order for recovery to be effective, the person seeking help must want to do, regardless of anyone else. Otherwise the treatment will not be as effective as it should.
When having made the decision to seek help, the next step is to see your doctor. At this point, you want to have a conversation with your doctor in regards to how you’ve been feeling and how long it has been going on for. From here, your doctor can send you to a specialist (psychiatrist or psychologist.) or will begin medication treatment. At this stage, the goal is to reach emotional stability, chemical balance and to help decrease/subside the occurring symptoms.
Next is to explore different ways of expressing and/or dealing with your thoughts/feelings/emotions. A few options that may help include:
- Talking to someone
- Activities that you enjoy (i.e. writing, poetry, art)
The last step to recovery is staying in recovery. Whenever the symptoms you were experiencing before come back, do not be afraid to speak up and tell someone. Be sure to monitor when it happens, what happens, how often it happens, and if there is an underlying cause to it (if there is one.) If you are unsure, always make an appointment with your doctor and discuss with them how you’ve been feeling.
Recovery from a mental illness takes time and never gets a break. However, one treatment option on its own isn’t as effective as a combination – if possible, do as many treatment options as possible (for example, medication & journaling and talking to someone.) Always remember that if you’re ever unsure of anything, talk to someone. Do not be afraid, there are people that are willing to help. If you fall down, stand back up – it will take multiple falls before you get to where you want to be in your recovery and once you’re there, there will still be falls but you will have the resources to help guide you through.
Alex Newton is a nursing student and mental health advocate. She grew up in a small town and plans on moving to London, England one day and open up her own health practice. She has a cat named Maya who she adopted whilst going through some difficulties. She’s a daughter, sister, and warrior who enjoys a nice cuppa tea.