Recovery: In Search of Self

August 25 2019 Erie, PA

There is no universally agreed on definition of recovery. However, most agree that recovery has to do with forward movement. Movement from existing and surviving to personal responsibility, building resilience, and full engagement in one's environment.

Receiving a diagnosis is never good news or foreseen. And it is packed with emotion and worried thoughts about the present and what the future might hold. The good news is that once recognized and acted upon, a person can go to war. Medication and things like talk therapy can help a person get one's thoughts together and begin to strategize.

Yet, it is vital that you do not leave the serious business of recovery to medication and trusted professionals. You MUST actively engage in the work needed to bring about your own recovery. Plan and stick to it. If plan A fails, go to plan B or Z. Perfection is over-rated and unrealistic. There will be setbacks, do not give up on yourself. If you cannot hold your own light fully just yet, find someone you can trust or learn to trust and let them hold it for you.

The first order of business is to lose the idea that recovery is not realistic or possible. Next leave behind or just plain ignore those who suggest it cannot be done.

Get serious about sobriety and consider clean eating. Cut out the junk and processed foods. These can be occasional indulgences but not a way of life. Make a mistake, learn and begin again.

Work to control your environment. Do the best you can to insulate your self from triggers and stressors. Noise and a crowd are a common trigger and or stressor. If you cannot handle a big party, excuse yourself or ask to be excused. It is not worth getting sick over or to spend days getting over your exposure. Distance your self from negative or toxic people. Do you have that sucking feeling in your chest or stomach? Chances are good you are in the presence of someone who is harmful to your health and well-being. Work to secure a decent safe place to live. It does not need to be a castle, but it needs to be decent and safe. Exercise, so you can not afford an expensive gym membership just yet? So what? Movement cost nothing. Finally, get some rest. The sun rises each day and sets each day. I do not make the rules that is just the way of things.

Engage in your community. Network, make friends, develop a broad base of support. Seek out work that agrees with you. If you can not find work or if a regular job is not for you just yet, consider volunteering full or part-time. There is a lot of good work to be done. Not all work has a regular paycheck attached to it. That does not make the work less noble or valuable.  Avoid the all too common mistake of isolating yourself. Sometimes, you just need to take a deep breath and act the opposite of how you feel. You will find once you do this you will enjoy yourself and the company of other good people. Build resiliency by developing multiple tools, they will make the work of recovery much easier and viable.

Take care not to trust Schizophrenia or any Depression, Mania, or Disorder. They will lie to you. It is in their nature to lie. Similarly, take care not to buy into stigma or belief that recovery from a mental illness is not possible as these also are lies. And finally, guys, men get mental illness, depression and anxiety happen. Men know when to ask for help. Your survival DEPENDS on it.

Respectfully Submitted,

Brian Patrick McLaughlin MS/CPS
MH Consumer Advocate
Erie County, PA.


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