Find Hope Within Yourself

In what ways have you found psychiatric medication(s) helpful, if any?

Certain medications helped me cope with acute stress, such as medications to manage panic attacks. When supplemented with helpful counseling, these improved my quality of life.

In what ways have you found psychiatric medication(s) harmful, if any?

Under certain providers, I felt that my diagnosis was inaccurate and that I was merely pigeonholed into a certain category with a set of psychiatric options. Consequently, the drugs prescribed under these circumstances were not helpful, but rather frustrating. Until I began to aggressively educate and advocate for myself in session, I felt powerless against the “expertise” of the MD and frustrated that my treatment was not working, and in some ways, worsening my life.

During your mental health care, have you often felt hopeful about your chance of getting better?

Yes. Once I had found the right match with my mental health counselor and psychiatric care provider (psychiatric nurse practitioner), I began to feel more hopeful of getting better. Until that point, however, there were a few years during which I constantly despaired because, despite my efforts, I was not improving. I cannot underscore enough the power of a good mental health counselor and a cautious psychiatric professional.

During your mental health care, have you often felt hopeless about your chance of getting better?

Yes. The first few years of counseling were very frustrating for me, since I was a teenager, knew nothing about mental healthcare, and had, in my opinion, an incompetent counselor. After some major life changes, (including a “nervous breakdown”) I began to look for a new counselor and psychiatrist. This was the most frustrating process of all, since it was slow, painstaking, and with each new candidate, I began to feel hopeless that I would ever find the right fit for me. I finally found a therapy group that I liked and that referred me to my current therapist (of 3 years now) and I have since improved dramatically. I am looking forward to my life, even though I feel as though I will be in therapy for several more years.

Has a mental health provider ever told you that you could reach a personal goal despite your psychiatric diagnosis (for example, education, career, independent housing, relationship, children, etc.)?

Yes. Certain care providers were very hopeful for my improvement, and believed that when furnished with the appropriate coping mechanisms and lifestyle alterations, I could accomplish many of my goals and improve in my condition.

Tell us what recovery means to you. How would you define recovery from mental health or emotional problems in your own words?

I would define recovery as the acquisition of motivation to get better, by gaining hope and relevant knowledge about one’s condition, and by being provided ways in which to achieve a better quality of life.

If you could send a brief message to someone receiving mental health care today who is feeling hopeless about getting better, what would you say?

Find one thing, whether it resounds emotionally or only cognitively, about your life that you value, and work towards that. It doesn’t matter how small it is or how abstract. Even if you don’t feel like anything has value in your life, pick something, anything. There is space for everything within you, and if you allow that part of your life to grow inside of you, the other parts will give it room. Every resource you need may not always be available, such as therapists, psychiatrists, important people in your life, but you have everything you need to find hope within yourself.

Can you give examples showing you have gotten better from a mental or emotional problem, such as how you are doing well or accomplishing goals you have chosen?

In the past 3 years, I have gone from two suicide attempts to looking forward to the future, enjoying the person I am evolving into. I am in school again, have a good job, and I am slowly extricating the toxic influences in my life and replacing them with wonderful things. I am nowhere near completely healed (in many ways, my healing has yet to begin), and as an impatient person, the process has not been easy, but rather, frustrating. However, like practicing a piece of music, or learning a new language, I kept doing what I was doing and one day, something got better, and then another, and another. The pieces CAN fall into place, and they have for me.