First of all, a huge THANK YOU to all who have contributed to Mental Health Week(s), through their article contributions and participation in discussions! I am sure the discussion is not over and submissions on this topic are always welcome! I am humbled to have been given this opportunity to provide education and support for individuals who are suffering with mental illness and their families, as well as helping the general population to gain a better understanding of these conditions. Today’s blog provides a few final words on support and will direct you to some great resources in support of those with mental illness.
Advocate Advocate Advocate
The biggest lesson I have learned in the treatment of mental illness is the importance of advocacy. In particular, we are called to be our own advocate – and if we cannot, our family members are called to be one on our behalf. If we want effective treatment and relief of the symptoms of mental illness, these are the things we need to do, and our family members with us:
- EDUCATION – We need to learn EVERYTHING we can about the symptoms we are experiencing and if a diagnosis has been offered, we need to learn about our diagnosed condition. Learn about the disease, how it works, the symptoms, how to recognize when we might be in danger (to ourselves or others), what are the prescribed treatments for the disease and what additional supports might be helpful. LEARN. READ. ASK QUESTIONS. SEEK ADDITIONAL INFORMATION.
- MEDICATION – If medication is prescribed to treat our condition, we need to learn everything we can about the medication. Ask your doctor. Look it up on the internet. READ the pamphlets your doctor gives you. How does the medication work? What are the possible side-effects? How do we recognize when it is, or is not working? What are the symptoms that might arise to tell us that the medication is not the best for us, or that it is no longer working? When is it appropriate to cease medication? What does withdrawal look like? What are the counterindications of the medications or possible negative drug interactions?
- GRIEF When we receive ANY medical diagnosis, there is grief. This is especially true in the case of mental illness. Learn about grief and how to process grief. Seek the help of a grief counselor or Spiritual Director in helping you move through the grieving process. Allow yourself to grieve, it will prove to be invaluable to your healing.
- WHOLISTIC Supports NAMI reminds us that the greatest success in relief and recovery of symptoms of mental illness come out of an integrated approach. Seek supports. Research which forms of support might be helpful to your condition: diet, exercise, nutrition, mindfulness practices, energy work, creative endeavors, counseling, therapy, support groups, service, etc. etc. etc.
- NAMI – Check out the NAMI website for your closest NAMI chapter. NAMI provides education and support for those suffering with mental illness, along with their families.
My Favorite Books
As a final source of support, I wanted to share with you, three of my favorite books on the topic of mental illness:
Hidden Victims, Hidden Healers by Julie Tallard Johnson. In this book, Julie provides an 8-step process of healing for family members of those with mental illness.
Waking the Tiger by Peter A. Levine. In this book, Peter describes trauma and its chemical effect on the body, especially the brain. (trauma is often at the root of symptoms consistent with mental illness). He then provides practical tools for the release and healing of trauma.
The Instinct to Heal by David Servan-Schreiber. Servan-Schreiber provides information on seven natural therapies that have been shown to alleviate the symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress.
Thank you for your participation in Mental Health Week(s). And if you have articles to submit, I am always happy to share them on this blog. Keep ’em coming.
Authentic Freedom Ministries