From the Doctors

The Future is Coming Soon!

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This is blog 10 of a series of 10 blogs on this topic.  We’ve been sharing some thoughts and experiences of peer counselors J, K, M, R and Y, working with Recovery Innovations Arizona (RIAZ) both as participants in the system and as coaches helping others. The WRAP program through RIAZ makes a difference in peoples’ lives. In this last blog, we’ll review some of the peers’ thoughts about the WRAP program.

Y reveals, “You have to be pretty much honest with yourself. You have to understand that ‘OK, this is what is going on with me. This is what I’m experiencing. Let me get some help for whatever it is that I’m going through.’ Some people isolate themselves. They stay home. In this program you interact with other peers who are going through the same thing you’re going through.” Y hopes that every individual who experiences some challenges can participate in a program or support group, so he or she can be on a journey to recovery also.

K agrees that finding support is really important. She hopes people find happiness in whatever they’re doing. “Their recovery is going to be different than my recovery, but we’re all moving forward every day in our own personal journey.”  M would like to see programs in the future be more focused on the wellness aspect than on the illness aspect. “Treatment can be a turning point.”

We have nationalized care for the mentally ill. We have Recovery Innovations International in many different parts of the world, but we don’t have the type of circle of friends that is available as going to 12-Steps meetings. In our community, the most important part of what makes this successful is having that sense of community to which you can belong. Down the road, there’ll be some online activities that can help expand that community and make it workable. We’ll have to see what the future holds in the future.

We are so thankful to the wonderful peers with RIAZ who shared their challenges, stresses, and hopes for the future with us.  The next series of blogs will relate to experiences of several Indian physicians in Psychiatry residency programs relating to similarities and differences between Eastern and Western philosophies. We are so different, but so similar!

Challenges for the Future

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This is blog 9 of a series of 10 blogs on this topic.  What are our hopes for the future when it comes to mental health challenges? How do we define wellness?  We look at redefining mental illness as a mental health challenge, an area of wellness to be regained, versus an illness to be treated. How can people get benefits from Recovery Innovations International (RI)? RI has a web page at www.recoveryinnovations.org. Recovery Innovations now is in Alaska, Arizona, California, Delaware, Washington State, Australia, Scotland, New Zealand, and England.

Part of the vision of Recovery Innovations says, “Our team envisions a future in which people have opportunities to pursue happiness, to prevent and reduce early mortality and to achieve a full life in the community with open access to a range of recovery and wellness services, supports and resources. We intentionally role model ‘I am the evidence of recovery’ by being and bringing our very best to our work.”

We’ve been sharing some thoughts and experiences of peer counselors J, K, M, R and Y, working with Recovery Innovations Arizona (RIAZ), both as participants in the system and as coaches helping others. The WRAP program through RIAZ makes a difference in peoples’ lives.

J describes how WRAP is used as part of a support group. Everybody can share whatever it is that they are going through. “One individual may say, ‘Hey, I was experiencing that. That’s what I went through.’ It can help them also. Everybody’s comfortable sharing their experience or whatever it is that they may be experiencing that day.”  R adds, “I can share something that works for me. Maybe someone else will say, ‘Yeah, I can try that. Maybe that will work for me.’ That’s the kind of thing that happens when you do it in a group.”

It’s important for people living in a family system or relationship to share their WRAP plan and having others involved in helping them identify warning signs and triggers. M admits, “You want to have a trusted person to do that. You want to choose someone that you can trust before you share.” Y includes, “You want to have somebody who’s going to support you in a time of crisis if that happens to be the situation. I have a Mental Health Power of Attorney. If he sees signs of me having some challenges, he will let me know and we will work together on what to do about the situation rather than fight the system. At the same time, this person’s going to work with me so I get the help I really need at that particular time.”

The WRAP program is the crisis plan. For instance, what medications must be avoided? Y explains, “You have to really trust that supporter person that you’re sharing your experiences with because you want them to respect what you are saying. You have choices.”  It’s similar to a Medical Power of Attorney for a medical illness, on what a patient wants done as far as management of their care and health when they are unable to do it for themselves or talk verbally about what they need for themselves. K adds, “What hospitals to avoid, to what medications the person may be allergic, a lot of different things.” In the next blog, we’ll optimistically describe the future of wellness!

Support is Key.

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This is blog 8 of a series of 10 blogs on this topic.  There are substantial numbers of people who go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, not because they are alcohol abusers, but because they heard you can get support there, that you can get acceptance there, that you can get a sense of being taken for who you are, unconditionally loved.   They weren’t getting that elsewhere in their lives, and so they were going to AA meetings.

If I have a best friend who’s concerned about me, he might say “Hey, what’s going on?” If I have a mental health challenge, a supporter or support group will do the same thing, if I allow them to. That helps me to be a more successful person, whether it’s because my best friend is telling me I’m acting like a butt-head, or because I’m having warning signs that need to be addressed. You have to work with it by making lifestyle changes, by being willing to accept feedback.

We’ve been sharing some thoughts and experiences of peer counselors J, K, M, R and Y, working with Recovery Innovations Arizona (RIAZ) both as participants in the system and as coaches helping others. The WRAP program through RIAZ makes a difference in peoples’ lives.

K describes, “I can get on the phone and call somebody and share that something’s going on with me or I’m having a rough day. There are times when I do experience a challenge, but my Wellness Recovery Action Plan helps me out with that. If we’re not feeling well, we’ll call in and say, ‘I’m not feeling well today.’ Our director will ask us, ‘What percent not feeling well, like 1 to 100?’ I’ll say, ‘Well, I’m feeling 80%.’ She’ll say, ‘Well, can you give me 100% of that 80%?’ She encourages us to still go to work, if it’s mental, if it’s not physical. We all experience challenges at times and our coworkers can help one another out. That’s one of the good things about our job.”

M further explains how it’s working together, “with the people at the hospital, the doctors, ourselves and the ones who help us then the most, our peers.   I’m one of them. They say, ‘Well, how can you do this? I didn’t know that you had a problem.’ I explain, ‘Well, I do, but I take my medicine and I do what I need to do for recovery and that’s how I make recovery work for me.’ It’s a wellness action plan.’”

Daily maintenance is an important theme that the peer counselors advocate.   This wellness action plan must be worked on a regular basis. It’s like the 12 Steps of Alcoholic Anonymous. You just don’t do it to get sober; you do it to get recovery, which is a day-by-day event. Things that you do on a daily basis keep you well. That’s one of the topics in Recovery.

In the next blog, we’ll share more information about Recovery Innovations.

Who’s in Control?

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This is blog 7 of a series of 10 blogs on this topic.  We’ve been sharing some thoughts and experiences of peer counselors J, K, M, R and Y, working with Recovery Innovations Arizona (RIAZ) both as participants in the system and as coaches helping others. The WRAP program through RIAZ makes a difference in peoples’ lives.

Many people feel like they are giving up their personal power because they have to take a medication or they have to go to therapy. They no longer feel in control of their emotions.  R describes that when people have some other diagnosis, like hypertension, or diabetes, they are required to make some adjustments in their life. Some of the adjustments might be medications or a change in lifestyle. “We view people with mental health challenges the same way. There’s a change of lifestyle and there may be some medications to help maintain that lifestyle that they want to improve and move forward in their own recovery.

“You’re not losing control. You’re actually gaining more support, support from your family, support from medical personnel, support from your peers. You’re getting the support and it’s going to help you stay well and keep you on the right path, moving forward in your progress in recovery.”  J adds, “I totally believe in my medication because I actually remember when it first worked for me and it gives me a life worth living. I value it very much but I also made many life changes over the years while taking the medication. It’s a part of your recovery, if it’s needed.”

Y agrees. “I’m not angry that I have to take a medication. I’m very happy that there’s a medication that’s making me feel better and be productive in society today and able to work. It’s not just the magic pill. You have to work with it and that’s where WRAP comes in for me. I can detect my early warning signs.”

It’s important to have a good support base system and then review the WRAP, Wellness Recovery Action Plan, with the supporter. If the supporter sees early warning signs or triggers, he or she will know what to do.  One of the issues about our culture and our society is that we have to be rugged individualists. Studies have shown that people using support groups have much better achievement, personal and career success and wellness in life. More on this next time!

It’s a WRAP!

 

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It’s a WRAP!

 

This is blog 6 of a series of 10 blogs on this topic.  We’ve been sharing some thoughts and experiences of peer counselors J, K, M, R and Y, working with Recovery Innovations Arizona (RIAZ) both as participants in the system and as coaches helping others. The WRAP program through RIAZ makes a difference in peoples’ lives.

J describes it as “a personalized plan that you make for yourself, so we share it in a group but each individual does their own WRAP.” It focuses on what you need and what works for you rather than someone telling you, ‘This is what you need to do.’ It gave J “a lot of balance in my life. When I first did my WRAP, I did not know the difference between breaking down and crisis. It was all lumped together but now after about 10 years of WRAP, I know when things are starting rather than when they are in a crisis stage. I recommend it to anybody, because it helps you learn how to maintain yourself with your systems.”

R adds, “And stay out of the hospital, too!”  It’s preventive maintenance and like preventive maintenance you’ve got to do it on a regular basis. You can’t just do it once and then everything’s good.  M describes it “like a journey you’re going on and you take that journey and you have choice. If you make that choice to do recovery and believe in it and believe in yourself, you can be anything and do anything you want.”

An important part of a WRAP program is the requirement that you be willing to ask for help or allow others help you. One of the biggest issues in working with mental health challenges is the idea of having to take a pill or go to a therapist, giving up control of life emotionally and psychologically.   M accepts, “The pill has to now control my emotions and allow me to be less depressed or not to have psychosis symptoms.” Part of the issue of empowerment might also mean, “I need help. I need assistance. I may need to take a medication as a part of that process of recovery.” It’s a very difficult area. In Medicine, we might wrongly call it “non-adherence” or noncompliance.

If someone is not working a strong WRAP program, a Wellness Recovery Action Plan, and not using support systems, it creates a lot of difficulty in that person’s life.

We’ll focus on this in our next blog.

 

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