Contributed by David L. Bastin (2012) [David Lee Bastin studies social work as a graduate student at Tennessee State University. David’s interest in social work stems from his work as a therapist for the Tennessee state mental institution. David plans to continue working with those suffering from serious mental conditions such as schizophrenia and psychotic disorders. Follow David on Twitter @DAVIDBASTIN2]
Recovery from mental illness is a process. This process can empower a person through initiation of their own unique strengths. Embracing change and focusing on a positive outlook can unlock a vision providing a conceptual framework of guiding principles. Seeking support is also a major factor in the recovery process. Maintaining a routine may provide a stable backdrop for behavioral choices. The restoration of a meaningful life is the goal, which provides a basis to gain better control of personal reactions to the events that influence life.
The recovery process emphasizes the fact that an individual may not have full control over the symptoms, but can have full control over life. Transcending the limits which may be imposed by mental illness and social barriers is crucial to the recovery process. Recovery can occur even though the symptoms may re-occur. In the recovery process, individuals are responsible for the solution, but not the problem.
Self-motivation may provide personal growth. Are we ready for change?
- Awareness: I am aware that I need to change.
- Emotion: I want to change.
- Decision: I have decided to change.
- Action: I am changing.
Motivate yourself by putting the solutions in the present tense. “I am living healthier.” “I am participating in my recovery process.”
Placing emotion next to decisions may help us to list the reasons why we do the things we do. Be sure that most of your goals come from yourself. Do not set goals other people want you to have, but do take suggestions and seek advice.
Shape your reality by building a precedent for achieving goals. Do not let fear of a lack of self-confidence defeat the process. To succeed, there is always a risk of failure. However, visualizing a positive outcome may help to diminish fear.
Prioritizing values are also important principles to take into consideration. Think of values that are special. These may include integrity, honor, truth, or code. Areas concerning over-all health may also be considered as special values. Values like, food choices, emotional and physical choices, rest/sleep, exercise, inner beauty, and peace of mind, may be included. Journaling and recording notes may help with understanding personal values and goals. Intentionally shape your reality.
Empowerment comes from recognizing that we all have unique strengths. Motivation comes from empowerment, which gives us the authority to make choices. Knowing there are options which allow us to control our own destiny is a powerful mechanism. Personal responsibility and self-care bring confidence as a weapon to fight mental illness and promote wellness. Empowerment also comes from coping skills and the ability the leave some memories and experiences behind.
A well-organized support system may assist the individual in recovery, as well. This aspect is sometimes easy to say and hard to accomplish. But, there are people who are willing to assist in the recovery process. Seek 3 types of support.
- Counseling (therapeutic and/or a practical guide to resources)
- Groups (with peers/others seeking recovery)
Support allows for a collective agreement which can be effective in the pursuit of participation, resources, options, decisions, and aspirations. Empowerment consists of social and civil aspects as well as personal aspects. Support may be an important component of that process.
Behavioral patterns are a certain part of the success in recovery. Adapting to change and reversing ‘vicious cycles’ is paramount to the recovery process. Behavioral patterns that are detrimental to the process are:
- Self-destructive behavior
- Risky behavior
- Un-sustainable relationships
- Substance abuse
- Eating disorders and
- Other self-medicating behaviors
Change of behavior can lead to further empowerment and personal freedom. A protection of personal rights may stem from sustainable behavior choices. Preparation for behavioral change and recovery is a technique that can lead to coping skills needed for the recovery process.
Understand that our own situation is as unique to us as are our strengths. We all have a sense of purpose, an idealized self, and a series of goals for which we strive. If we were fully determined by the past, we would never be able to change. Continual growth extends from experience and occasional setbacks. Self-acceptance and a belief in one’s self provide a better future for the mind, body, and spirit. Recovery from mental illness is a process which supports motivation, empowerment, and our unique strengths. Breaking-down recovery into ‘small successes,’ may reduce the overwhelming feeling which accompanies the process. Avoid the things that ‘bring-you-down.’ Create goals and contribute to the world in a unique way.
David L. Bastin (2012)