You've just had your first or fifth hospitalization for mental illness. How do you begin to rebuild your life? Where do you start?
The most important first step is to secure providers. You'll need both a therapist and a psychiatrist. The therapist will handle your talk therapy. They will help you work on coping skills and managing your day-to-day stressors. The psychiatrist will handle your medicine. Most providers agree that the best treatment plan combines medicine and talk therapy; one without the other is incomplete. Now, not everybody will be willing to take medicine. The side effects can be very bothersome. Believe me, I know. I've had cystic acne flare-ups that caused me to look like the elephant man and had to have painful cortisone injections into my face to shrink the cysts. I also gained 52 pounds in four months. I know side effects. But the alternative is no walk in the park either. I, personally, could not function without medicine. Well, I could. But it wouldn't be ideal. With the right psychiatrist, you can find the right medicine that works for you with the least amount of side effects. You will have to be patient. It takes time. In seven years I've tried 11 different medicines.
After you have a therapist and a psychiatrist you need to start to build a life that will keep you sane and healthy.
- Make sure you are getting adequate amounts of sleep. I have bipolar disorder. If I don't sleep, I can trigger a manic or depressed episode.
Acupuncture, yoga, Ayurveda and other forms of Eastern traditional medicine take into account the whole body and the interconnected systems within it. The focus is on bringing balance to our whole being -- the body, mind and spirit -- from within. Therefore, these modalities treat the symptoms while simultaneously treating the root imbalance in order to affect long-lasting change.
I realize keeping atop of your health needs can be expensive. If you do not have health insurance, find charity care. Some pharmaceutical companies will even provide you with your medicine at discount rates or for free. There are income requirements. So check out the website of the individual pharmaceutical company. You can also probably get free samples from your psychiatrist. Please do not let cost prohibit you from seeking help.
It may seem like your life is turned upside down. But trust me: it's not. In seven years I've been hospitalized three times for a total of 32 days. Each hospitalization has taught me more about myself. And luckily, each hospital stay has gotten shorter. Meaning, I'm recovering at faster rates. But to be honest, recovery is no cakewalk. Each episode has dealt me some tough blows (namely, thousands of dollars in credit card debt; when I'm manic I spend uncontrollably) that I've had to come back from, but with time I've recovered.
There is no better day than today to start living the life you want. Don't let your illness derail your plans.
Have a story about depression or other mental illness that you'd like to share? Email email@example.com, or give us a call at (860) 348-3376, and you can record your story in your own words. Please be sure to include your name and phone number.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.