Friday, 18 October 2013

Recovery takes 90% YOU

So what do I mean by the title?  Well, any form of recovery takes work from the patient, whether it’s resting a sprained ankle or ensuring that antibiotics are taken correctly.  We ask a health professional for help but once the help has been given it is up to us whether we use that help and to what extent.

Despite poor treatment of mental illnesses there is help and it comes in many forms.  The doctor can prescribe medication, refer you to tests or mental health services or offer some advice and information.  Many charities and internet forums offer a bounty of advice and support.  If we look for help we will find it.  And with all of that support out there, whether it’s reading self-help books or receiving talking therapy whilst on medication we are all responsible of our own recovery, probably a lot more so than if we were suffering from a physical illness.

As someone who is recovering from a serious anxiety disorder I am not speaking out of term.  After receiving different forms of treatment and reading many articles on the internet I have learned that once we have been given the tools we must use them outside of the doctors surgery or support center.  I am guilty of being given tools and never using them, like relaxation techniques, and wondering to myself why I wasn't recovering.  Persistence with recovering techniques will work eventually.

It is hard to see improvement with a mental illness when coping strategies or treatment plans are new, in fact it may feel like it’s getting worse.  It’s easy to drop something if it doesn't work the first time.  But with determination, persistence and tolerance it will begin to show that it works.  Changing the way you think, from ‘I can’t do this!’ or ‘What if?’ to ‘I can do this’ and ‘Have I?’ to ‘I have’ takes a lot of practise, it won’t work the first, second or third time, but it will begin to work by the fourth time and work better each time.  Exercising may seem tough, especially if you’re suffering from depression, but once the wall has been broken it gets easier and starts to show improvement. 

Mental illnesses like the anxiety and depressive disorder require the person to change their way of thinking for recovery to begin.  It also means putting the person in situations that may cause distressing experiences, like a panic attack, anxiety or distressing thoughts.  Recovery, at that stage, can be very difficult and uncomfortable.  It takes small, simple steps at a gradual pace.  Eventually the symptoms will become bearable and manageable to take on new steps.

To be mentally healthy means that we can cope in challenging situations and adapt to change, this all means we can think rationally.  If we are to achieve this we have to challenge our thoughts and strive to change them to a healthier and proactive way.  Unfortunately, there is no magic pill or magic phrase that will make this happen, it takes us.  With an arsenal of tools out there we can begin to change our way of thinking and slowly recover.  I am by no means excusing the poor level of treatment, because even with excellent mental health services recovery still requires a change in thinking and hard work from the patient.  

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