In my moments at my worst, I didn’t have a recovery team in place or the right support to help me. I distinctively remember lying on the floor, curled up in a ball, and crying my eyes out because I felt that I had no one.
Throughout my recovery process, I have learned the following below but first and foremost- you need a recovery team; people and support that will help you through your bad times. EVEN if you think you’re doing okay for the moment or everything has been going smoothly, it’s always best to have a recovery team behind you at all times.
Once the recovery team is in place, it may be useful for the person to develop some useful mental health recovery tools that can help in good times and bad times. These personally work for me. Please feel free to add to this list if something aside from these below work for you. I’m always interested in hearing about your recovery tools.
During the process of creating these lists, try to give the answers a lot of thought.
1. Write down the words that describe the feelings that arise when things are going well.
Words like content, satisfied, cheerful, talkative, calm, confident, etc. are some of the more common descriptions, but most people probably have their own descriptions as well.
It helps to write these words down. During more challenging times, this list can be a reminder that there have been times when things were going well.
2. Describe the things needed to be done on a daily basis to promote wellness.
These are daily healthy habits, such as eating three balanced meals per day, drinking plenty of water, taking vitamins, taking medication appropriately, and anything else that needs to happen each day to stay healthy. Not using alcohol and illicit drugs can be an important part of staying well.
It can be helpful to refer to this list if it becomes hard to keep up a healthy routine.
3. Describe activities that help bring about feelings of happiness and satisfaction.
What are some of the things that help maintain an “even keel” and promote positive feelings? Many of these things will be common to a lot of people, but many will also be unique to each person with a mental health condition. Some of the items on the list might be: talking to a trusted friend or friends; talking with a therapist or counselor; spending time in nature; spending time on hobbies; going for walks; wearing a favorite outfit; cooking a healthy meal; doing yoga or some other stress-relieving activity; doing something creative, such as writing, painting, photography; taking a pet for a walk.
Refer to this list when it feels like things may be getting off track. It can be a helpful reminder of the enjoyable things in life.
4. Write down the things that have triggered a relapse in the past.
A trigger is something that happens that makes it feel like symptoms may be returning or getting worse. Every person has triggers that are unique to them. Some common relapse triggers include stressful events in one’s life, stopping or changing medication, use of illicit drugs or alcohol, and other medical conditions.
Being aware of personal triggers and making a list of what they are can be helpful when taking action to prevent a relapse from occurring or to stop a relapse before it gets harder to manage.
5. Develop a plan for a crisis.
It may not be pleasant to make a plan for a crisis, but when people with a mental health condition plan ahead, they are able to have more input into the way a crisis is managed. To do this, it’s a good idea to talk with the different members of the recovery team. Ask the therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist what to do if symptoms become severe. Ask friends and family members on the recovery team if they can be the people to contact during a crisis. Let people know about a preferred facility if hospitalization is necessary.
Make the crisis plan on good days, when the person with the mental health condition is feeling strong. It’s a good idea to keep the names and telephone numbers of the recovery team members in the same place, and to tell them in advance where it is, so that they can refer to it if they need to.