It wasn’t until the late 1980’s to the early 1990’s that individuals and their loved ones began to hear more about mental health recovery. Prior to this time, not much hope was given by professionals that one could become stabilized and lead a productive and satisfying life (http://mhrecovery.com/definition.htm).
My first hospitalization was in the mid-1990’s. I was both ashamed and felt hopeless about my mental illness and diagnosis. At first, I remained silent about it and barely functioned, despite taking medication and participating in therapy.
As more and more information came out about mental health recovery and the stigma surrounding it, I became more vocal about my struggle and educating myself about mental illness (and treatment). Educating myself about my diagnosis, treatment, and medications empowered me…gave me a feeling of being less out of control over my life and what was happening. The more I shared my story, the more others began to open up to me and discuss their own, or a relative’s struggle. We felt a connection (not alone) in our struggle and we learned from each other.
So, the first step in reaching recovery is to ask…what is my diagnosis? Learn about your diagnosis and the various treatment strategies that are effective in treating it. It is also important to shop for your therapist, the same as you would research for a medical doctor or shop for a new electronic device. You want to be able to feel a connection with this person…comfortable enough to open up and talk with this person. Ann Veilleux provides a basic explanation on how to go about this at http://annveilleux.com/articles/how-to-choose-the-right-therapist.
Veilleux recommends that you “interview” prospective therapists. In order to do this, it is beneficial to know a little about your diagnosis and treatment so you can ask questions regarding these. For example, some therapists may have issues with treating individuals diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). If you are diagnosed with BPD, you would want to see a therapist who is not only trained in treating the disorder but also without any bias toward you as a client.
In regard to medications, make a list of the medications you are prescribed. Read up on what they are used for and what are their side effects. This is important because I was once prescribed a medication that caused severe insomnia, for me. This was before I was familiar with my medications. For several weeks, I was frightened my depression had worsened, thus causing the insomnia. Instead, it was a side effect of the medication. A quick medication change and the insomnia improved.
I hope this is helpful. Feel free to email me with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.