It can be an exhausting and frustrating journey trying to recover from mental illness. Maybe you’ve been struggling for a long time and you’re growing impatient. Maybe you thought you were better, but your symptoms came back. Maybe you’re just in a rut right now. Maybe you’ve become cynical at the idea of healing at all.
Whatever your situation and whatever your illness or struggle, I can promise you there are always options to get better. They’re not always easy or fast, but recovery is real and possible for everyone.
Here are some suggestions on what to do when you’re not getting better:
Discuss your options with your therapist. I believe in the power of good professional counseling and always recommend it to those with mental illness or any other significant struggle. If you need help finding a therapist, try searching at GoodTherapy.org. For those who are in therapy, it may be that you need more time and patience to see improvement. However, it might also be a good idea to consider new things. Talk to your therapist about trying different therapeutic strategies, having more frequent appointments, adding a specialist to your treatment team, or perhaps discuss whether you should find a new therapist who’s a better fit for you (your therapist won’t be offended, I promise.)
If you’re on medication- know that it takes time. It took me several different medications to find one that worked for me. If you’re annoyed with side effects, or aren’t seeing results quickly, try to give it the full “adjustment period” (which varies for different medications) for your body to get used to the medication and for you to see some improvement, before you give up on one. If medication isn’t your thing, consider seeing a specialist in natural remedies who’s knowledgeable on mental illness.
Do your therapy “homework.” If your therapist doesn’t already do this, ask for practical ways you can work on your recovery in the time between sessions. Doing the work to follow up and reinforce what you’ve learned at home will help you make the most out of your treatment.
Use self-help resources. The internet is full of helpful ideas, information and new things to try to aid in your mental illness recovery. With the internet, we have access to worksheets, follow-along-videos for yoga and exercises, audio meditations, affirmations, and online forums! There are so many great sources to link, but I’ll include just a few ideas to get you started:
Therapist Aid- worksheets for anxiety, depression, grief, stress and more. I love this site!
Yoga with Adriene– Yoga for beginners.
Stop, Breathe & Think– Easy meditation app for ios, android and the web.
Creative Affirmations– Affirmations by topic.
Mental Health Forum– Exactly what it says.
Use Your Support System. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a support system. Having a small group of people you can trust, that you can reach out to and say, “Hey, I’m struggling right now,” when you need to is so valuable. If you don’t have people in your life you can talk to like that yet, another resource to get some peer support is 7 Cups of Tea. Please note when using this website, however, that this is not a substitute for professional help– just people who volunteer to chat with other people having a hard time.
Be patient. I know, I know. That’s not what you want to hear right now. But chances are, you didn’t get sick overnight, so you’re not going to get better overnight, either. It takes time to undo thought patterns and make actual changes in the wiring of your brain. But it is possible and you can get to a place of peace. If you don’t want to take my word for it, here‘s some encouraging stories from people who’ve been where you are, and made it.
Got more advice for those feeling stuck in their mental illness? Share your tips in the comments below.