Monday, September 30, 2013

Mental Illness - Spread the Awareness

My Photovoice provides one family's expression of supporting an individual who has a mental illness through the process of relapse and recovery. My project offers a glimpse of the individual's feelings at the beginning of the video (first two slides), as well. Please continue to watch as I go through the entire cycle of relapse to recovery. If the beginning triggers you and is difficult to watch, start at 4 minutes and you will see the positive part of recovery.

According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness website, "mental illness is a serious medical illness that affects ONE in FOUR families" (2010). I hope to educate and spread awareness regarding mental illness and the affects it has on the individual and loved ones.

Recovery is a positive time and can be prolonged with the proper treatment for the individual. Maintaining basic needs, developing skills to better manage every day life, supportive family, friends, and providers all can help. Don't lose hope. Depending on the individual, s/he can improve by implementing the following: finding the proper medication, HEALTHY support from loved ones and providers, asking for help - until you are and your support network are confident you can help yourself, believing you can get better, having the right providers who know you can improve (because you can), if your providers don't support your wishes WHEN YOU ARE STABLE - find ones that do, never underestimating your success, patience, case management (the people who can teach you the skills and get you to your appointments until you are able to manage on your own - which you can get there with time and patience), forgiving your mistakes while in your illness, not allowing the stigma to get to you, educating yourself, educating others, empowering yourself by joining peer to peer groups or family to family groups, spreading the awareness to those who don't understand it, exercising, eating food you like that is healthy, getting adequate sleep, socializing - even when you want to isolate, balancing between pushing yourself to be comfortable with unpleasant thoughts and feelings and making sure you relax and have fun every day, limit your stress by not taking on so much, doing one change or step at a time, creating a relapse prevention plan and distributing it to people you trust and know will follow it, seeking medical attention when medication isn't responding the way it used to (it may be that your chemicals are balanced and you no longer need that med or need a different medication - ASK YOUR MEDICATION PROVIDER BEFORE TAKING YOURSELF OFF SO S/HE CAN SEE YOU MORE OFTEN UNTIL YOU ARE BALANCED ON A NEW MEDICATION), allow yourself to advocate for yourself, speak up when you feel your loved ones are not respecting you where you are at in your process of recovery, recognize recovery takes time and you will get to stability with patience and a healthy support network, be patient with yourself - you've gone through a lot and can get back to who you want to be.

TIP: Document your (or your family member's) cycles, moods, and symptoms (depression, paranoia - aka difficulty trusting others to an unhealthy extent, isolation, mania, hypmania, etc) on a word document. Send this to your (or his/her) HEALTHY support network with his/her permission. This can help the provider understand and learn you (or your family member's) illlness because all mental illnesses are going to be different for each person with similar symptoms of the documented mental illness. Do the same with medications. Why you (or your family member) doesn't like them, side effects, why they didn't work, what did work, etc. This can help find the best medication quicker with accuracy.