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6 Ways I Plan to Improve My Mental Health Recovery Skills in 2017

In all honesty, when I read the topic suggestion for unique list of resolutions, I personally hesitated, thinking I probably would not be the best person to write a mental health resolution list. I’m just not the type to make, and especially stick to, any resolution with my short attention span and all.

After the changes I have made and the recovery I have been enjoying for more than six months, I believe if someone really wants or needs to make a change, he or she can under the right circumstances. I never dreamed I would be doing as well as I am now, say a year ago. So I decided, why not? I will accept the challenge, and in the process, hopefully I will inspire change in someone else’s life in a positive way. That would be a great start for this upcoming new year.

I have battled mental health challenges for as long as I can remember and in various forms. I haven’t enjoyed a tranquil adulthood because of them. I have bipolar I disorder, complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as attention-deficit disorder (ADHD). I recovered from a lengthy addiction to alcohol several years ago.

Following a psychotic mania, which lasted for close to a year, I have been in treatment and medication management. I attribute success this time to numerous factors, but one of them for certain is my willingness to change and establish the necessary goals to maintain my stability and control of my own life.

I decided sharing this might be helpful to not only me, but maybe someone else who may relate in some way to my resolutions to accomplish this new, healthy me:

1. I will continue to increase my self-awareness by recognizing my own emotional triggers.

I achieve this by mood charting, recording moods in an app or by simply writing them down in my journal. The records allow me and my therapist to then look back over a period time and identify trends in changing behaviors. Once identified, l will also take the initiative to master the mechanisms and new skills to help me maintain long-term stability.

2. I resolve to practice more compassion for myself and for the process of recovery.

Self-criticism should be at a minimum and should only serve to build me up rather than bash me for my missteps. I will accept that recovery is a lifetime commitment and is best executed seeing the details of the journey, not looking forward to the next step. I will also identify and accept all of my strengths and my limits. In doing so, I will use them to my advantage in recovery (such as looking for work again down the road.)

3. I will practice more patience and tolerance with friends and family.

The truth is they most often want to help during bad times, but they just don’t know how. Therefore, I will not take inappropriate comments to heart. I will, rather, turn them into opportunities to educate someone about the stigmatizing of mental illnesses and the consequences of stigma for all of us. I will forgive and admit to myself that they probably aren’t attacking my character, but they are just falling short of properly expressing their concerns for my well-being.

4. I will make apologies and amends to as many of my loved ones as possible who I may have hurt during times I was untreated and unwell.

Recognizing that mental disorders will often manifest themselves as bad behavior, the illness can serve only as an explanation, not an excuse. I want all of my mistreated loved ones to know and trust that I am working so hard to stay well. This is so that wrongful acts of the past will be less likely to occur again. I am doing all of this because of the love I have for them and for myself.

5. I’m going to continue to take ownership of my treatment and form stronger partnerships with my mental health care provider.

Faithful maintenance of medications is the cornerstone of my treatment. I already take note, but intend to do a much better job of recognizing when things don’t feel quite right. Then, the course of action will be to notify my doctor to get things back in check before it’s too late. I also resolve to stick with talk therapy, which will enable me to move forward more quickly while I learn ways to free myself from traumatic memories. The continued commitment to mindfulness and living in each present moment will become more of a focal point in my self-help. This way I can ensure increased wellness and also long-term happiness. I will also take my physical well-being more seriously by eating a cleaner diet, moving and practicing yoga regularly.

6. I want to be more productive and proactive in my writing and my advocacy work.

By maintaining the previous resolutions, more doors open to maintain a positive life. Therefore, during my period of renewed strength, this resolution will be possible. With strength, I will practice gratitude for what I accomplish each day. I will not compromise my recovery due to remission. I will remain vigilant in looking out for anything out of the ordinary, as a new episode can strike without warning. Therefore, I will create a safety plan for me and for my loved ones so we all know how to effectively handle any instability that could possibly arise.

Much of this I already do to a degree, but improvement of even your own self-improvement cannot hurt. Strengthening recovery skills promotes remission, and hopefully with it, more possibilities of maintaining a better quality of life than I ever thought possible.

Whether we start today or at the new year, it makes no difference as long as we actually start. We owe this effort to ourselves and those who we love, as well as those who are all around us in our society. Hopefully, these ideas will help someone else get as motivated as I have become to do more than make goals, but to reach them. The most important part for me will be remaining accountable for my progress, which will certainly pay off and make 2017 our happiest New Year in a long time.

If you or a loved one is affected by addiction and need help, you can call SAMHSA’s hotline at 1-800-662-4357.

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