Recovery in the face of Psychosis (and you can too)

It’s not easy. There is no secret. There is no singular trick that will solve your problems.

There, I said it. Hopefully it helps those of you who suffer from depression to hear this.

I feel there’s no equivocation in depression, no relative comparisons of suffering, there’s only suffering. People around you, often with good intentions, might have tried to “solve” your anxiety, depression, panic attacks, eating disorders, autism, or whatever challenges you face, and while they mean well there’s nothing they can do that will fix you. Sometimes it can make you feel even more helpless than before. The solution — that comes from within the afflicted, and its resolution is a personal journey. Professional help can be a partner to walk alongside you in this journey, and I feel there’s little more helpful than a visit to your psychologist or psychiatrist. My burden is panic, paranoia, psychosis, and depression. It’s not as severe as it sounds, but i’m certified crazy, and highly functioning.

Psychosis was a burden, filled with suffering, and brought on partially by decisions I made.

It broke me. It filled me with anger and regret and longing, and I thought i’d never be my self again. It still does, sometimes, but i’m getting better. Seeing a good therapist has been life changing. Taking the right medications has been life changing. My life is changing. I’m making changes that add up every day, like quitting smoking cannabis, drinking less, and exercising in conjunction with medication and therapy. I’m also practicing self-care, reaffirming my worth every morning and night.

It’s only since quitting a semi-illegal, somewhat decriminalized drug that I began to truly understand what it means to recover from Psychosis, what it does to you and those around you, and how to rebuild the damaged.

Familial relationships, friendships, academics, and intimacy lashed out at viciously. No reason to believe I would ever recover, be “normal” again, if I ever was normal at all. But that’s not true, there is hope for me and all the afflicted. I’ve been forgiven by all my friends and family, and yet I still beat myself up emotionally from time to time over things I’ve done. I can’t say what your solution is, but I can offer these tips to help you along the road to recovery.

  1. Don’t do drugs (M’kay?). If you have a serious mental disorder, the last thing you need is for a psychoactive drug like THC, LSD, Psilocybin, MDMA, etc. to exacerbate the problem. Alcohol too. (But a beer here and there is essential to one’s wellbeing, I believe.)
  2. See a psychiatrist, or a psychologist if you’re doing well enough to avoid medication. Talk openly and honestly, they’re supposed to be a refuge for the things you can’t comfortably say elsewhere. No topic is taboo, as long as you set some guidelines with your therapist before diving into topics like sex, drugs, and other things that might have real repercussions.
  3. Do drugs. Take medication. There’s nothing wrong with being prescribed something for your disorder. I take Abilify and Sertraline. It works well for me. I like to talk about it to encourage others to do the same, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
  4. Appreciate yourself. You’re worthy of every joy life has to offer. You are wonderful. You are a prince, princess, champion of the suffering, hope for the afflicted, and a wanderer of the imaginary realms. You’ve traveled a bit too far and you’ve tired, but we’re here to rest alongside you.
  5. Appreciate your family and friendships. Nothing in this world is permanent and nothing hurts quite like regret. Appreciate people while they’re in your life, and when they’re inevitably gone, be grateful for the memories.
  6. Embrace failure in your journey to “happiness, normalcy, etc.” No one is happy. No one is normal. We’re all trying to reach contentedness, a true state of acceptance and bliss that flows from moment to moment. Happiness is a state you’ll never reach for longer than a fleeting moment forever in the future or far behind you. When you live in your heart from moment to moment, you can fail a thousand times and always find a reason to smile afterwards.
  7. Take time for your hobbies and don’t focus on reaching perfection. Just embrace the moment. You’ve got time to enjoy the gifts God (or your Deity of choice) gave you — that’s amazing. That’s incredible. That’s fantastic. It goes back to point 6, embracing failure while finding contentedness in the moment.
  8. Don’t worry about it. Things tend to work out as they should, and there’s no sense in fighting the reality you live in. No matter how impossible it seems, even when you’re tired at the end of a long day. Don’t dwell on what can’t be changed.
  9. Find community. Find your tribe. Connect mentally. Find people who have similar interests, illnesses, struggles, sorrow, sadness, and who find joy in you. There’s nothing quite like connecting with a new person whose experience resonates with your own.
  10. Give back. The world gave you life and consciousness, use those gifts to reaffirm the goodness of life. We’re all the same and different. That alone inspires me to write and reach out to those who have similar afflictions to myself, and those who want to understand where i’m coming from (or what someone in their life is feeling.)

We’ve got the power to be loving each other no matter what happens, and that’s enough to fill me with hope for my self and for others. In these polarizing times, take a minute and think about what makes you different, what makes you sad, what makes you special, and what makes you the same. For me, it is the fact that we are all the same and different simultaneously that fills me with hope. There’s room to love each other in any situation, including loving your self. There’s room for sadness and sorrow, there’s room for psychosis and autism and anorexia and anxiety and panic and schizophrenia and dementia. There’s room for everyone.

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