A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Common Sense (And Another Portrait)


This is Bev's youngest son, Kevin. Like Liana's portrait it is painted in gouache which is a more opaque version of watercolor. I really like the gouache and I enjoyed drawing and painting Kevin's portrait. His look is so open and so serious. He has very nice eyes. I particularly like the bandana he is wearing; there's even a yin/yang sign visible on the right side. I got in touch with Bev and will hopefully see her for lunch on Monday. I'm planning on trying to paint a portrait of her as well because I have a good photograph that I took of her several years ago. So I will give all the paintings to her when I see her. I'm looking forward to getting a photograph of her eldest son, Zach and also one of her boyfriend, Jeff.

I'm still eating sensibly, counting calories and getting nearly daily exercise. Last week I lost another pound and I'm hoping that I'll have lost yet another pound by Monday morning. The longer I stick with this, the more committed I'll be and I will lose the extra weight I've put on, most of it by this time next year.

I got my online support group cards today in the mail. I have to make card holders to put them in and I also want to make up fliers to generally explain the cards and draw attention to them. I've set a deadline to start posting them by this time next week. I hope some people respond and we can get a dialogue going. I can't be the only person who thinks that this is a good idea, but I'll have to wait and see.

I've been productive since I started the diet and exercise program a month ago. I've been reading more, painting more and even doing some singing and songwriting. The voices have also been more subdued. I don't know if that's because of the diet and exercise program, but it might just factor into it. When it comes to treating mental illness, I think a lot of it is about applying common sense to the problem. It's just sometimes it takes a while to get to that point. It's taken me ten years to get to this point. I think part of why it's taken me a decade is that I wouldn't take the medications (except Prozac) for the first three years which led to three breakdowns which led to taking the meds, but also to serious depression. If I had accepted my diagnosis right away and began taking the medications, if I had not only went to therapy, but had a mental health support group to go to online and offline, well maybe I would have gotten better sooner. But I didn't and we each have to go through our own trials and tribulations to learn our lessons and get to a better place. Which is why it's important to help others along the way by sharing your experience and giving some hope that things really can get better given the right attention and time.

One thing that bothers me is the gulf between those that are still caught within paranoia and delusions and those that are in recovery from them. This is why I am such a believer in support groups even though I've never been to a face to face mental health support group other than Al-Anon. I think people who are in recovery, whether just starting out or with many years of experience, really can influence those who are not in recovery, but the lines of communication must be open and readily available. Blogs by those who have mental illness are also a great way to spread the news that recovery is possible. If there ever is a face to face support group where I live I think I would want to keep a list of the various blogs I've found to pass out to newcomers.

Something else that is sorely needed is a simple daily reader for people with mental illness. I've looked online, in bookstores and I haven't found even one! I've even tried to start writing one of my own, but it's too big a job for me to do. I think it needs to be a collaboration between people. I learned from Al-Anon that a daily reader is a great way to organize a support group meeting. I've also found it to be essential to a daily recovery practice. Does anyone have any ideas? I'd also love to hear about your experiences with mental health support groups. How are they organized?
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