Using a personalized plan for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and balance is a first step in managing the symptoms of depression and mania. Developing your Wellness and Recovery Plan will help you do this.
Our last blog introduced you to the idea of using a Wellness and Recovery Plan or a Wellness and Recovery Action Plan (WRAP)® as introduced to the mental health community by Mary Ellen Copeland. Today I want to focus on essentials. First, download this 13 page booklet on Action Planning for Prevention and Recovery (PDF) that was derived from the WRAP.
The essentials of your personal Wellness and Recovery Plan include the following:
- Take time to really think about and contemplate what your actual feelings, emotions, triggers, environmental stressors, types of events, relationships, and other factors that contributes to your vulnerability to experiencing a “flare up” of symptoms. ( A “Trigger” is something that triggers the beginning of a depressive or manic episode. ) Spend the time and effort to also consider what can be changed, arranged, re arranged, or implemented to decrease your vulnerability to “flare ups” and increase your overall feelings of well being. This really does take time.
One approach to identifying these “triggers” is to use the ABC approach to examine what environmental issues, events, thoughts, feelings etc., contribute to behaviors that express your symptoms “flare ups” and to also identify what you actually experience immediately after you engage in the behavioral expression. Most often, the immediate experience is some type of relief from feelings of distress. I will blog on the ABC approach to identifying your triggers and what might be reinforcing behaviors that unwittingly make the cycle of chaos or distress even stronger next week.
For now, remember that you must take the time to really review your situation and examine the events in your life while looking for “triggers” and environmental stressors. Spend some time with a pen and notebook and yourself; write down a few events that seemed to trigger your last episode of depression or mania. Take the time to print the How To Booklet on Developing your wellness and Recovery Plan. Plan about 2 hours per week for 12 weeks to actually work on creating your plan. (Go to: samhsa.gov as mentioned above).
- Involve Family and/or Friends and develop a support team. Let them know what you are doing now, before you even get started. Tell them that you want to develop a Safety and Support Plan (As part of your Personal Wellness and Recovery Plan) to help you function through life better. Let them know that your hope is to increase your support and to strengthen your relationships. I will be blogging on repairing strained relationships later on as we move through this process. For now, let people know what you are up to and see who might be willing to support you in this process right now.
- Network using your computer, the local phone book, friends, your doctor and mental health provider; get a comprehensive list together of all of the resources in your local area. Include everything from Crisis Numbers, In patient Emergency, Out Patient Emergency, local charities, local clinics for health and dental; include your faith based organizations that you feel comfortable with, and include the numbers of at least three support people who will agree to be called at any time of the day or night should you need their help. With that said, it is always a good idea to join a support group if you have not done so already and this is a great source for further networking. The point here is to consolidate all of your networking and help information into a user friendly personal resource guide.
Our next blog will discuss the idea of incorporating your spiritual practice into your Wellness and Recovery Plan. By then, you will have had an opportunity to read the booklet and you will have an idea of the actual components of a plan with a basic idea of how to put one together. After we talk about the possible benefits of incorporating your own spiritual practice, beliefs, and heat felt passion into your Wellness and Recovery Plan, we will look at how to identify triggers and also what might be reinforcing the cycle of “dis” order. Please e-mail me with what you would like to see here as well at firstname.lastname@example.org