Monday, June 28, 2021

How to Cope with Dark Seasons

I aim to empower those affected by mental illness. However, the truth about recovery is there will be many dark seasons. Still, I hope people will remember the person we were prior to the harsh symptoms, and know we are still that person.

I am not a doctor, I am a peer counselor of certified peer specialist. I have worked with peers as a recovery support person in a substance abuse department, housing programs, and peer-led centers. My story is just one of many. It may be widely similar, or different. Yet, I believe it can help.

Living with a diagnosis can be rough. The symptoms can turn our thoughts dark, bizarre, and extremely debilitating. As an individual with schizoaffective disorder I am fortunate to experience great days, but when I struggle- I struggle.

I know that medication cannot solve all. I know my challenges and limitations- which we all have to a degree. I take my medication because it helps me think more clearly and minimizes the symptoms. However, it does not make them go away. I lean on those close to me and also my experience.

I try to be mindful of the warning signs and triggers. I share my story to support other people's recovery journey. That journey may include: broken relationships, hospitalization, jail, and even suicide.

To my peers, we can comeback to ourselves. I encourage you to reflect on experience by reviewing the common things that occurred before the setbacks. Your warning signs may be different from mine. Or you may not remember them. You may not have support. But, you can overcome by observing the clues that we may be off-balance.

Here may be signs, but not limited to:

  • Poor sleeping habits- oversleeping or lack of
  • Poor diet- overeating or lack of
  • Irritability, frustration, anxiety
  • Distrust, suspicion and feeling like a victim
  • Exhaustion or high energy
  • Hyper-religious
  • Psychosis- difficulty understanding what is a false perception versus reality
  • Memory issues, etc.
These are signs of significant stress and symptoms of our mental condition.

The truth is coping skills can help us manage, however, setbacks may be a continual battle. 

Ways to approach these concerns may include:
  • Creativity in focusing on projects and hobbies
  • Sleeping aides- supplements, medication, sleep routine
  • Mood journal- track good days and bad days- is there a pattern?
  • Games that help exercise the mind and concentration
  • Stress management activities
  • Peer support, support groups
  • Exercise
  • Spirituality
  • Therapy, etc.

Lastly, I define recovery as staying in a good place that is by using coping skills. I advocate for therapy and look at medication as a personal choice. I believe recovery is possible and that we can have better seasons.


How to Cope with Dark Seasons

I aim to empower those affected by mental illness. However, the truth about recovery is there will be many dark seasons. Still, I hope peopl...