5 Things to Consider When Starting a Mental Illness Treatment Plan

I often have people reach out to me looking for solutions on how to treat their mental illness. Or they want suggestions for medications. I love being able to help others, but I do know my limits. I understand I am not a medical professional. I am just a blogger with bipolar disorder who only knows my experience. This is what I offer those to who approach me:

I want to say it takes a lot of strength to realize you need more help than what you are doing on your own. I am going to be honest, I can’t tell you what you should do. But I have a couple of suggestions that can really help you.

1. Purchase a journal.

Keeping a journal is a great way see what is and isn’t working for you. When you start, journal at least two to three times a day. You’ll want to keep track of how you are feeling physically and emotionally. Are you tired? Drowsy? Irritable? Depressed? Shaky? Dizzy? Angry? This is something you want to share with your doctor. It will help them see if something is working or not. Most likely you will be the last to see the difference. When you have a disorder, it can be hard to decipher things about yourself.

2. Be informed. 

You are going to be faced with many options. Your doctor may narrow it down to a couple of choices based on what you’ve told them. (On that note, please always be honest with your doctor.) When given those options, medication might be offered. Make sure you are aware of possible side effects. They can range from nausea and weight gain to loss of fine motor skills and kidney damage. Some medications require regular blood work to make sure they are at safe levels. It is a matter of give in take. Do the benefits outweigh the risks?

3. No two treatment plans are the same.

Just because I may do well on something doesn’t mean someone else will have the same results. Just as we are different as individuals, our illnesses can differ. This is why I strongly urge you focus on what works for you. People are going to give you all kinds of suggestions. Essential Oils. Yoga. Diet Changes. Medications. They will tell you what worked for them. And those things may have worked for them. You need to filter through and see what works best for you. This is where your journal comes into play. It is a great way to judge what works and what doesn’t work.

4. You are not your disorder.

Some people may see your disorder before they see you. It is hard for people to recognize people with mood disorders are capable of having real feelings. This can be really tough and discouraging. It can be quite a blow to the ego when you are honestly upset about something and someone asks if you’re taking your meds. It is infuriating and deflating. Most likely, it will happen when you are really thinking you are doing well. When you finally feel like a person again. Please don’t let this discourage you from continuing with what it working. You are your own person who is not defined by your illness. You are allowed to have emotions like everyone else in the world. If you are feeling down, flip through your journal and see how far you have come.

5. This is a lifetime dance.

So this is probably the hardest part about being open about seeking help, but do not let this discourage you. Chances are pretty good this is a lifetime illness. I know with my bipolar disorder, there is no cure. There are just fluid treatment plans shifting ever so slightly to keep up with my brain. It’s possible to find something that really helps. It may help for months, even years. Then one day, it all stop working. It can happen. It can be a let down. A reminder we are not like everyone else. It can be tiring and frustrating, but it is worth it. Life is a beautiful thing to be apart of. So in the end, it is worth the dance.

I really hope this helps you in some way. I wish I could tell you what exactly to do. But I can’t. Not in good faith in any way. My last piece of advice is to follow your gut. If you feel like you are getting the help you need, go somewhere else. Your voice matters. Never forget this.

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