If you’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness, knowledge is your friend. The more you know about your illness, the better equipped you are to take an active role in your treatment and recovery. That’s what psychologists call “illness management” – when you’re able to keep your symptoms under control, and stay in recovery, because you’re following your treatment.
Set realistic goals
First, read all the information given to you about your illness. Ask questions about anything – your diagnosis, your treatment, your hopes for a normal life, your therapy and medications.
Then, set a few goals. For most people in recovery, it’s important to establish and pursue goals, whether they are small or large. This isn’t always easy, especially when all your time and energy goes toward keeping your symptoms in control.
Figuring out a set of goals isn’t always easy.
Your therapist will help guide you in this process – help you figure out what’s important to you, what you want to accomplish, and what you want your life to be like.
You can start by thinking about a few questions:
- What kind of friendships would you like to have?
- What would you like to do in your spare time?
- What kind of hobbies or sports or activities would you like to participate in?
- What kind of work (either paid or volunteer) would you like to be doing?
- Would you like to take any classes?
- What kind of close relationship would you like to have?
- What kind of living situation would you like?
- Would you like to change your financial situation?
- How would you like to express your creativity?
- What kind of relationships would you like to have with your family?
- What kind of spiritual community would you like to belong to? Which areas of life do you feel most satisfied with?
- Which areas of life do you feel least satisfied with?
- What would you like to change?
You don’t have to address all these at once. Just pick one or two that seem easy to achieve. That’s a good starting point.
If there’s a big goal that intimidates you – like meeting new friends – break it down into smaller goals. Focus on finding one or two groups in your community that sound interesting. Make a goal to attend their next meetings. Another goal might be to talk to one new person that night.
You get the idea. Like anything in life, just put one foot in front of the other. This is your life. It’s your recovery. It’s on your schedule. Just make sure you’re staying motivated to keep moving forward. That’s what Illness Management is all about – moving forward. You can do this, with a little help from your friends.