When others find out that I have experienced no symptoms of mental illness for the past 14 years, they usually want to know what I have done and do in my journey to have 14 years of sustained recovery.
My standard answer to them is:
- 1. I take my medicine as directed. If I have needed a tweak or change here or there I have talked with my psychiatrist. And if something is not quite right, I do not hesitate to call his office immediately.
- 2. I have become extremely “self-aware.” I pay very close attention to what is going on with both my thinking and any perceivable changes with mood. This has resulted in changing some of my “stinkin’ thinkin’” and learning to pace myself, especially when I’m stressed.
- 3. I choose to believe I can live a rich and fulfilling life in spite of having a mental health diagnosis. Yes, it’s a choice. And yes, it’s possible to make that choice.
- 4. I have a circle of accountability in my life. I signed a waiver for the doctor to be able to speak to my spouse and three very trusted friends who have my best interests in mind. For the last 12 years I meet with them twice a month. They can all talk with my doctor if my behavior and thinking would seem to be “off”. To my knowledge, none of them have ever talked with my doctor.
- 5. I decided it was time to get up and choose to live again; pushing myself to do things I didn’t necessarily feel like doing (unlike my first seven years prior to the last 12 in which I simply was trying to cope with life).
- 6. I choose to believe by my faith that the Lord can work all things out together for my good (Romans 8:28).
- 7. I have a great support system of family and friends who have been instrumental in my recovery.
While there is never “one-size-fits-all” approach to recovery, these seven have been key for me.
What about for you? What has contributed to your success in recovery?