Recovering Your Mental Health
Taking a Look at Yourself
Have you been told that you have a psychiatric or mental illness like depression, bipolar disorder or manic depression, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, dissociative disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, an eating disorder or an anxiety disorder?
Do any of the following feelings or experiences make you feel miserable or get in the way of doing the things you want to do most or all of the time?
• feeling like your life is hopeless and you are worthless
• wanting to end your life
• thinking you are so great that you are world famous, or that you can do supernatural things
• feeling anxious
• being afraid of common things like going outdoors or indoors, or of being seen in certain places
• feeling like something bad is going to happen and being afraid of everything
• being very “shaky,” nervous, continually upset and irritable
• having a hard time controlling your behavior
• being unable to sit still
• doing things over and over again—finding it very hard to stop doing things like washing your hands, counting everything or collecting things you don’t need
• doing strange or risky things – like wearing winter clothes in the summer and summer clothes in the winter, or driving too fast
• believing unusual things – like that the television or radio are talking to you, or that the smoke alarms or digital clocks in public buildings are taking pictures of you
• saying things over and over that don’t make any sense
• hearing voices in your head
• seeing things you know aren’t really there
• feeling as if everyone is against you or out to get you
• feeling out of touch with the world
• having periods of time go by when you don’t know what has happened or how the time has passed — you don’t remember being there but others say you were
• feeling unconnected to your body
• having an unusually hard time keeping your mind on what you are doing
• a sudden or gradual decrease or increase in your ability to think, focus, make decisions and understand things
• feeling like you want to cut yourself or hurt yourself in another physical way
If you answered “yes” to the first question or answered “yes” to any of these experiences, this booklet is for you. It is designed to offer helpful information and suggest things you can do to feel better.
Things To Remember
Above all, remember, you are not alone. Many people have feelings or experiences like these at some time in their lives. When such experiences become severe, some people reach out for help and treatment from health care providers. Others try to get through it on their own. Some people don’t tell anyone what they are experiencing because they are afraid people will not understand and will blame them or treat them badly.
Other people share what they are experiencing with friends, family members, or co-workers.Sometimes these feelings and experiences are so severe that friends and people around you know you are having them even though you have not told them. No matter what your situation is, these feelings and experiences are very hard to live with. They may keep you from doing what you want to do with your life, what you have to do for yourself and others, and what you find rewarding and enjoyable.
As you begin to work on helping yourself feel better, there are some important things to keep in mind.
1. You will feel better. You will feel happy again. The disturbing experiences and feelings you’ve had or are having are temporary. This may be hard to believe, but it’s true. No one knows how long these symptoms will last.
However, there are lots of things you can do to relieve them and make them go away. You will want help from others, including health care providers, family members, and friends in relieving your symptoms and for ongoing help in staying well.
2. The best time to address these feelings and experiences is now, before they get any worse.
3. These feelings and experiences are not your fault. Remember, you are just as valuable and important as anyone else.
4. When you have these kinds of feelings and experiences, it is hard to think clearly and make good decisions. If possible, don’t make any major decisions—like whether to get a job or change jobs, move, or leave a partner or friend—until you feel better. If you have to make some major decisions, especially about getting treatment, ask your friends, family members, and health care providers for help.
5. Spend time with people you know, and work on developing friendships with people who are positive, caring and who like you just the way you are. Sometimes people who have these kinds of feelings and experiences are treated badly by people who don’t understand. Try to stay away from people who treat you badly.
6. Listen to the concerns of and feedback from your health care providers, friends, and family members who are trying to be helpful, and work with them to find solutions that feel right to everyone involved.
7. These feelings and experiences do not take away your basic personal rights. You have the right to-
o ask for what you want, say yes or no, and change your mind.
o make mistakes.
o follow your own values, standards and spiritual beliefs.
o express all of your feelings, both positive or negative, in a responsible manner.
o be afraid and uncertain.
o determine what is important to you and to make your own decisions based on what you want and need.
o have the friends and interests of your choice.
o be uniquely yourself and allow yourself to change and grow.
o have your own personal space and time.
o be safe.
o be playful and frivolous.
o be treated with dignity, compassion and respect at all times.
o know the side effects of recommended medications and treatments.
o refuse medications and treatments that are unacceptable to you.
8. If you are told that the following things are not normal, don’t believe it. They are normal. These kinds of things happen to everyone and are part of being human.
o Getting angry when you are provoked
o Safely expressing emotions when you are happy, sad or excited
o Forgetting things
o Feeling tired and discouraged sometimes
o Wanting to make your own decisions about your treatment and life
9. It’s up to you to take responsibility for your behavior and for getting better. You have the right to as much help as you need, but it is crucial that you take charge.