I absolutely love everything about Wellness Plans. WAIT! Before you keep scrolling by, just take a minute to read me out here. I too was once skeptical of the wellness plan, until my psychiatrist and I sat down and talked it out. It can be whatever you want it to be. Let me tell you why I think that you should think about creating one for yourself.
When you are well you do things for your health on a daily basis, without even thinking about it. These things have become part of your routine and require little to no effort on your part. These unremarkable tasks could include things like:
- Brushing your teeth
- Taking a shower
- Eating breakfast
- Getting dressed
These familiar things that you do for yourself have a name in the Medical Community. They are called Activities of Daily Living. We used the term a lot in the extended care facilities that I used to work at. There are tools that Doctors and Therapists use, regarding a client’s ability to carry out their own ADL’s, as to determine which level of care is required for that client. I believe this same term applies here as well, and this is why:
It is almost inevitable that at some point, with any diagnosis of mental illness, a time will come when you will become unwell, and sometimes that happens rather quickly. During these times, when life has become overwhelming, your ADL’s, the most routine things that you do, are what seem to require the most effort and are oftentimes the first things you let go. When it’s a struggle to even get out of bed in the morning, how are you expected to get in the shower?
This is where your Wellness Plan comes into action. The very best thing about the plan is that it is specific to YOU. You are the one who has created it, maybe with the help of your therapist, family members, and support systems, but ultimately, you were the one to choose the steps to help yourself find your way back to wellness. The key to a great wellness plan is creating it when you are at your best, for the times when you aren’t, and nothing is set in stone. If you find that something hasn’t worked for you, you change it up with what does work for you.
I’m not disillusioned enough to tell you that a wellness plan is a magic bullet in stopping depression, mania, flashbacks, or suicidal ideation, but it is a tool for you to use to help yourself acknowledge your feelings, distract from potential poor choices, and have you redirect your focus back to finding your balance. This proactive approach in your healthcare not only benefits you, but it helps your doctors to treat you to the best of their ability. It helps your family understand how you’re feeling and why, and it shows your support systems where you may need added support and where you can navigate things better on your own. You may not be able to just “snap out of it”, but you are able to help yourself.
As I said before, wellness plans are very specific to each individual, here is a great look at how to start, from Dr Barbara Bachmeier. Whether you choose to involve others or not is entirely up to you, but I do believe that support is so important in a healthy and balanced life. Mental illness does not just involve the person who is afflicted; it’s a family illness, a societal illness. The more people that we have on our side, the better we are at handling what seems impossible. So if you choose to include your family and friends in your wellness plan, that’s up to you, but I do suggest always telling them how you feel. If you’re having a rough time, it’s important that you speak up, you do not have to feel that way, and there is help out there for you.
And if you’re feeling great, I want you to speak up too. Celebrate that! Life is tough enough, and sometimes getting out of bed and washing your face deserves a victory high five. Celebrate You and everything that you are doing to live well with mental illness.