As an advocate of developing a personal a Personal Wellness and Recovery Plan, I would like to talk about creating a special section for relationship. Why? Because the confidence and emotional support that you will receive from sustaining healthy relationships will contribute to the foundation of your personal balance and stability as well. You have so much to give to the people in your world that you love. This includes family, friends, and a significant other.
There is much to read about healthy relationships, indeed, it is wise to be self educated about healthy relationships in general. With that said, I want to encourage you to take the time and effort to include a section in your Personal Wellness Plan for the people in your life that are very important to you. Your significant other, (husband, boyfriend, etc.,) should have a small “handbook” written by you that describes the type of routine/schedule that you need to keep, the diet that you need to maintain, the medications that you use, names and numbers of your doctors, and what to in in the case of emergency, and any other information such as a “This is What Helps Me” section, or When I Am …Do This” section describing the approaches and things that are helpful, listing things that calm you down or cheers you up etc.. Much like someone with a heart condition or diabetes would have. Last week I “re emphasized” having a Wellness Plan and elaborated on using the number scale to help you identify when you are in the “Take Care of Me” zone, and when you are in the “Danger Zone”.
In addition to the “handbook”, it is important that you communicate with the people that you are living with and are closest to, or who are in your life in very significant ways about what you will do and say when you are feeling that you need to take care of yourself, and what you need from them in order to take care of yourself. For example, you know what it feels like when you are starting to cycle down into a depression, you also know what steps you need to take in order to keep from going into a depression. Lets say you are married and your husband wants to support you. When you are feeling the “Take care of me” mark on a depression scale, you will have an agreement with your husband that you will make an extra appointment with your therapist. He will be prepared, and won’t wonder what is happening.
With that said, you will want to use a number scale that has the same meaning you, your therapist, and your husband. For example, if you use 1-10, with 1 being super happy on the depression scale, and your “Take Care of Me” number is a 7, then you have already promised your husband and your therapist that you will come in for a session at number 7. (See my last blog “Scaling Your Moods”). This is when you might also talk to your medical doctor about your medication. Likewise, if you have manic episodes, you will want a number scale for mania. It is this kind of communication that can make a huge difference in your relationships and partnerships. By taking responsibility for your care needs, your family will also be empowered to be a support for you.
No doubt, relationships are a two way street. I am an advocate of Everyone having a Wellness Plan; Not just an individual who has the challenge of a chemical imbalance! Mental Health and Wellness is for everyone, and maintaining our mental health is a pathways to healthy relationships. Doing this together is a powerful way to increase our feelings of closeness and mutuality with each other. Most human beings have unique temperaments, needs, dispositions, or have something that is part of their make up that needs to be honored such as abandonment issues, or a need to adhere to a special schedule, or work in a stressful job, be careful about a medical condition etc, and can benefit from having a Wellness Plan to help them manage their own life as well. Indeed, ask your loved ones to write their own Wellness Plan, and you can be a support to them as also; creating a mutually collaborative and supportive support system.