Recovery Awareness Month

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“It is what it is.” How many times have we heard or used that phrase? It is baked into the American language. In a few short words, we accept that we can’t always control what happens to us, and that is a fact of life. However, we can finish by saying, “…but what it becomes is up to me.” Nobody wakes up in the morning wanting to have a Mental illness. It just happens, but what you do with it, is up to you.

Can you recover from mental illness? The resounding answer is yes. September is National Recovery Month, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It has been a time to stop and consider the resilience of the human body, mind, and spirit. Mental illness may happen to you, but it doesn’t have to rule your life. You can make steps today towards recovery.

There is hope.

“Many people with mental illness feel like they are broken human beings.”

They lose sight of the fact that they are more than their mental illness. As a psychiatrist, I practice and teach that even in the most severe cases, people with mental illness are more than 99% normal. They are just like everybody else. Voices may cause you to fear the world, but your eyes, ears, and mouth work normally. Depression may sap your energy and zest for life, but your heart and lungs are normal. Anxiety may make you feel out of control of your emotions, but your legs, muscles, and bones are normal. I have never met someone with mental illness that didn’t have longings for comfort, love, acceptance, and companionship. You are more like the people around than you are different. Don’t let mental illness tell you otherwise. It will rob you of the motivation you need to recover.

Like any journey, you usually get farther faster if you have a good plan. Here are four important building blocks of recovery, courtesy of the United States Department of Health and Human Services MentalHealth.gov:

Health: Make informed, healthy choices that support physical and emotional wellbeing.
Identify and reduce sources of stress where possible.
Avoid drugs and alcohol. Many people “self-medicate” with these substances, but they will not help you recover. They will make things worse. There are many evidence-based treatment options available today to help you recover from substance abuse. Recovery is hard by yourself. Join us to help you.

Home: Have a stable and safe place to live.
Home should be a place of refuge, support, and rest. If your home life causes problems for you, talk with mental health professionals. We can help you.

Purpose: Engage in meaningful daily activities, such as a job or school, volunteering, caring for your family, or being creative. Work for independence, income, and resources to participate in society.
I often ask my patients, “Why do you get up in the morning?” We humans are happiest when we have a purpose in life. If you are struggling to find one we can help. It is often a simple problem of not realizing all your options.

Community: Build relationships and social networks that provide support.
People are at greater risk for suicide when they feel detached from those around them. Good people often don’t know you need help. Take control of your recovery and reach out. You’ll be surprised how easy it can be to find a good friend. A professionally trained therapist can help you with how your brain thinks about things. A prescriber can help you with medications. Friends help you explore and share all the wonderful interests and aspects of yourself that are not part of your mental illness.

B. Todd Thatcher, DO, CMRO
Chief Medical Officer
Valley Behavioral Health

At Highland Springs Specialty Clinics, we are dedicated to helping people find happiness again. We have excellent therapists and prescribers ready to be of service. Nearly 90% of our clients complete treatment within 9 visits. Don’t wait any longer. Take the first step to recovery and contact us.

AUTHOR: Dr. Todd Thatcher
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