Taking an Active Role in SMI Recovery

There were so many things that I wish that I would have done before I went to my monthly medication management appointment. After reading the excellent blog post in the National Empowerment Center’s website, I learned that I have been very passive in my recovery process. I had this notion that I was incapable of acting in my own best interests. I wanted to let the “doctor heal me.” 

Well, I am going to be a partner in my care from now on and take a more active role in my mental health recovery. I want to get better and believe that there is hope for people who have SMI. 

Taking a passive role means that:

  • You go to your meetings without agenda or plans
  • You have no idea of how your treatment plan is working for you
  • You have not get kept track of side effects or what is going well
  • You view medications as a miracle cure instead of tools
  • You expect the doctor to cure you without your having to do any work

Taking an active role means that:

  • You bring notes on your medications, reactions and feelings to the sessions
  • You know about your treatment plan
  • You know that medications go hand in hand with using coping strategies
  • You comply with the doctor’s suggestions or are honest about why and when you weren’t
  • You view the doctor as your coach on your recovery team, your conductor in your recovery orchestra, your leader in the recovery group, etc. 

Two essentials of Recovery: Desire and Honesty

The biggest thing that has contributed to my being happy has been the desire to be happy. I am never satisfied with my treatment and always want to get better. I am ambitious about doing things that I am not supposed to be able to do. So being a more active member of the recovery team fits in with who I am. It made me feel helpless and pitiable to be so passive. 

The next big thing goes hand in hand with ambition and that is its complement: honesty. If I think that I can fly to the moon as an astronaut without studying and discipline, I am being irrational. I obviously need to learn about rockets if I am going to fly to the moon. 

Also, I may not have the physical requirements for flying to the moon on the rockets that exist right now. I may not be able to do it right now. I have to be honest with myself about my recovery. If I need to read about my meds and see if the reason why I feel fatigued all the time is the medication, I have to have that level of honesty. I can’t proceed if I don’t recognize that there are problems. The doctor may say that the reason why I feel fatigued all the time is my lifestyle, but if I know that I used to exercise for two hours a day before her current meds and now I just don’t have the energy, I have to be honest with her and myself about that. I can’t cheat myself out of my feeling better just because I am afraid to tell the truth and rock the boat. 

Hope After Work

I guess that there are many things that I need to do to take a more active role in my recovery. I can’t expect to make progress without working at it. It’s like that flying to the moon thing. I have to train my body for living in the rocket, learn about the rocket, learn about the moon and prepare myself mentally for the trip. Best of all, I get to make friends along the way. I know that there are many other people with SMI. We don’t have to lead lives of grief and suffering. We can feel a little pain, but that might be what will help us grow. 

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