For me, that was going to support groups. When I moved back to Atlanta I didn't have resources to engage in quality outpatient treatment programs, but I did have access to mental health care which I did take advantage of. I got involved in a patient assistance program by the pharmaceutical company and took part in the support groups led by my therapist in my local treatment center. I went there to 1) get out of my house, 2) socialize with people, and 3) to learn more about my diagnosis. And a few years later I still participate in support groups which has helped my recovery tremendously.
Although recovery is challenging it does get easier with time. My biggest struggles were accepting life-long treatment, not being able to go back to work, and putting independent living on hold to recuperate. Today, I've managed to overcome most of these challenges. However, I still have concerns with medication compliance. Despite these concerns I've managed to take my medication for three consecutive weeks and I take pride in my daily successes.
Sometimes I have to take a step back and appreciate my daily accomplishments such as taking my medication on time, doing the dishes and other housework, and carrying out assignments promised to others. Completing these tasks could be challenging especially when depression creeps up on me and motivation becomes an issue, or I forget to do things.
Despite my initial struggles I've learned that I can go back to work, and volunteering has been my bridge and experience to get back into the workplace. Now, I've been living independently for three years- making arrangements for myself and paying utility bills and rent, and I am so proud of myself! Getting to independent living was a process- I stayed in a residential program for almost a year and then with my mother again, where I did contribute to the rent.
Today, I mentor peers in recovery by example. I encourage peers to take risks and to engage in advocacy for others. And I am enjoying life in recovery! Despite all the stigma around schizophrenia I surround myself with supportive people and networks. I am overcoming schizophrenia!
My next steps are to find permanent employment with benefits in mental health advocacy and to get off of disability income. I would like to be a homeowner and I believe this is attainable. I think my progress into independence and recovery is ongoing, however these successes can deteriorate if I do not stay compliant on my treatment plan, trustworthy of my treatment team, or stop taking risks that better my recovery lifestyle.
How have you, or your loved one, taken risks in recovery? What are your next steps in recovery?
To learn more about schizophrenia visit NAMI, Choices in Recovery, and Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (Canada).