Why Mental Illness Recovery is So Hard

Why Mental Illness Recovery is So Hard

Well, the last two weeks, I haven’t written much (or at all) and I’ve missed it. Just like it did before I started my blog, I’ve sat at my computer and written a few sentences before my mind went completely blank. To be honest, I hated it, but this is what my life is like with depression: it was something so simple that I’d been really enjoying and I couldn’t bring myself to do it. If I were to be more fair to myself, I would admit that I’ve had a lot going on in the last two weeks.

Most importantly, though, these last couple of weeks have felt like something is actually happening and have filled me with a renewed sense of direction and dedication in my recovery. I’m not necessarily feeling better, I just have some strength and passion back. It feels wonderful.

I went to the psychiatrist I talked about in my post on medication, started a day program at the hospital, and quit the day program at the hospital. I’ve also had to deal with the issues surrounding my leaving the program. I was unsure about the program’s curriculum going into it, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt; however, after two incidents in one week with two nurses who were excessively rude and unapologetic about it, I was done (and submitted a letter of complaint).

I have been making calls and sending emails like you wouldn’t believe, failing constantly to find new programs and following up on the waitlists I’m on. I met with my family doctor to go over the assessment and recommendation from the psychiatrist and get my prescriptions and a couple other referrals into programs that I was looking at. Her reaction was not one that I expected.

Fighting Against the ‘System’

I had already been over the psychiatrist’s assessment and recommendation myself and I did a lot of research on his recommendations and I had what I thought was the best course of action. My doctor refused to listen to my opinion, my symptoms, or my concerns. She railroaded me and told me that she was uncomfortable treating some of my conditions because she had never had a patient with them before. She recommended I see a psychiatrist instead. (You may remember, we were going over the recommendation the psychiatrist had given me.) She also complained that after the last time I had seen her, she spent an hour filling out the referrals I had asked her for. (If I could’ve referred myself, I would have, but that’s her job.) Needless to say, I’m on the hunt for a new family doctor. And a new day program.

Maybe everyone feels this way in recovery, but I feel like I’m the only one putting in the effort here. The medical professionals that I’m supposed to be able to rely on are not stepping up. I’m faced with nurses pushing for their ‘one-size-fits-all’ program instead of pushing for patient recovery. I’m fighting for help and compassion from a doctor that doesn’t care to learn new things or adapt to patient history. I’m stuck on 6-8 month waitlists with no in-between care. I’m told to get help, but I was never told that it would take so long or be so hit-and-miss.

In my post about my night in the hospital, I wrote, “When someone reaches out for help, it can take all the strength they have left. If it is your job to be the person they reach out to, you had better do your damnedest to be there and be their strength until they get it back.” And I mean it. I’m at the end of my rope, I can’t work, I can’t live alone, and I can barely leave the house. I am asking for help. I’m asking the right people for help, but I’m still in it alone.

So, What To Do Now?

Well, I’m pushing. Despite my irritation with the day program, I did learn a few really helpful things that have stuck with me. I’ve made a type of ‘vision board’ detailing who I am and who I will be, I’m setting goals and outlining my path through recovery and back to school. I’m inspired to try new things and I’m strong enough to push myself again. I also remembered how much routine and structure can help me.

I got up on time every day that I was in the program and slept better than I have in a while. I ate better, I felt like myself again, and I felt like I was headed somewhere. So, until I get into my next program, I’m going to try and mimic that the best I can. The goal is to be out of the house from about 10:30 until 4:00 each day, and I’m going to do that with a combination of community groups and events and solo time at the library. Thankfully, the CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association) in my area has a ‘Community Connections’ program specifically to help with that sort of thing. Starting Monday, I’ve got a colourfully full schedule. I’ll be packing lunches and out the door by 10:30, every day. Even though most groups are things like ‘Knitting with Kristen,’ or ‘Fun with Writing,’ it gets me out of the damn house.

I’m going to keep working on some of the exercises I started in the program. I’ve already got my ‘vision board’ and I’m going to update that every few months. I’ve also started my goals and my plan through recovery, and it’s almost done. I’m also going to make lists of triggers, crisis warning signs, and coping strategies for easy access and to ground myself when I need it. I’m going to continue journalling and going to community support groups. I’m going to keep fighting, but it should not be this goddamn hard.

Do you have any advice for me? How do you keep going once you’ve hit bottom?

PS – On the bright side, I’ve finally made the decision to change my eventual career path to community mental health as a social worker. So, I’ll be able to fix all the damn problems one day.

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