After Treatment for Mental Illness, Moving Forward with Your Life
Transitioning from crisis care to life as usual with a serious mental illness is challenging. The truth is that life will no longer be usual, but it can be even better. The secret to moving forward after a severe mental health episode is to accept the need for ongoing treatment and to engage with it. The best way to prepare to move on and create a new normal is to spend some time in inpatient care, learning how to live well with mental illness.
Moving forward after a mental health crisis may seem daunting, as if you have changed and can’t go back to who you used to be. The truth is that good treatment and ongoing care can help anyone struggling with mental illness restore a normal, satisfying life with friends, family, work, and a great quality of life.
Accept that you live with a chronic illness, take advantage of inpatient care and aftercare services, and let those who care about you help as you make gradual changes for a life that includes wellness and good mental health.
Acceptance is a big part of being able to move forward after going through intensive treatment for a mental illness. It’s not uncommon for a patient who has been stabilized to assume that everything is fine, to brush the incident under the rug, and to ignore the fact that they are living with a real, chronic, and serious mental illness. Know that this illness will not go away but that there are effective ways to treat and manage it, so that you can move forward with family, work, and other important areas of life.
Long-Term Care Plays a Role in Moving on from Mental Illness
With acceptance, you are ready to take concrete steps to continue your life with a mental illness. For most people that means engaging in long-term care. Just as you would continue to receive treatment and monitoring for a chronic physical condition like diabetes, you need ongoing care for mental illness.
Long-term treatment is what you need in order to make lasting and positive behavioral changes that will let you get back to a routine and normal life. Without this follow-up care, you run the serious risk of making no changes, which means you will eventually end up back in the same place and the same state of mind.
Inpatient care for mental illness after the initial stabilization period is one of the most important things you can do for recovery. A residential facility can provide a safe place to focus on getting well, changing behaviors, and learning how to get your life back. Patients have the opportunity to learn life skills, coping strategies, and to practice positive socializing with others.
The duration of time spent in a residential facility matters, too. In a study of patients with a dual diagnosis of mental illness and substance use disorder, those who completed a long-term residential program had much better outcomes, including greater abstinence from drugs and alcohol.
Access the Right Services
A stay in residential treatment is a great way to begin moving on with your life after a mental health crisis. But working on your good mental health and making positive changes shouldn’t end there. It will still be a challenging transition to go from daily treatment to life back at home. This is where aftercare services can be so important.
One study of patients who were hospitalized for severe mental illness found that specific aftercare interventions significantly reduced the rate of readmission to a hospital or psychiatric unit. Those patients with better results were offered in-home visits and phone calls from mental health workers. They also received psychoeducation with their families, an education and training program to help family members be better able to help their loved ones manage symptoms.
Returning to Work, Friends, Family, and Routine
Another benefit of inpatient care and aftercare is that they give you a chance to gradually return to the other parts of your life. While in treatment you will learn how to develop stronger and more communicative relationships with friends and family. You may even have important people in your life come in and participate in sessions to practice what you learn.
Another area of life that many patients worry about is work. A serious mental illness doesn’t have to stop you from working and being independent. The right treatment program will prepare you to go back to your old job or to find a new position that better suits your needs. Treatment will provide you with a daily routine, which helps patients feel stable and secure, and this is something you will be able to apply to your life once you return home.
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Make Lifestyle Changes, Gradually
Mental illness triggered the crisis that led to the need for treatment, but there were likely other factors in your life that exacerbated symptoms. As you transition back to home and a new way of life, recognize that you may need to make some changes. But go easy on yourself and make those changes gradually.
For instance, maybe you have a friend who drains your energy and makes you feel anxious. You may need to step back from that friendship and spend more time with people who help you feel whole and calm. Physical lifestyle changes can be important, too, such as prioritizing sleep when you used to get only a few hours a night, or taking steps to make better food choices.
Recovery from Mental Illness – Stories
Listen to the journey through mental illness that patients have experienced and what worked for them, and use them to inspire your next steps.
“With severe depression and anxiety, I found myself engaging in very self-destructive behaviors. I was drinking too much and even cutting. It got to the point where my parents had to take me to the hospital. I was there for three days, and while I felt better I knew I just didn’t feel right still. I didn’t know what to do next, but then I was told about a residential treatment facility. I spent three months there, and it made such a difference. It helped me accept that I have a real illness that is never going to go away, but now I know how to manage it. I still struggle with depression, but I haven’t had an anxiety attack in months, and I have tools I know how to use to recognize depressive moods before they get severe. I use tools I learned in treatment to make sure these episodes don’t get out of control. I’m back at work now and doing much better. I feel confident that I won’t need to get to a point of breakdown again before I ask for help.”
“Our son has been living with schizophrenia since he was about 13. We had to have him hospitalized several times just to keep him safe and to get him stable again. But it kept happening, and that’s when we turned to an inpatient program for long-term care. It helped him take the time to learn what medication would work best and with fewer side effects, but the treatment also delved into behavioral changes and learning to recognize triggers for episodes. Our son lives at home now, and we are still struggling with independence, but he copes much better than he used to. He hasn’t even gotten close to an episode like the last one that sent him to the hospital.”
Moving on with your life even though you have a serious mental illness means putting in the effort to make real and lasting changes. It’s not something you can do on your own. The most important thing you can do to make your future better is to work with professionals and really dedicate some time to learning how to live with your illness.
Our Mental Health Facilities
Constellation Behavioral Health is proud to be a leader and innovator of mental health services. Our integrated, shared system of care ensures quality of care across all of our facilities, with a distinct focus on providing a robust differential diagnosis, cultivating personal agency, and working closely with families and healthcare providers to ensure the best chance for lasting recovery. Coordination and collaboration of staff across our different facilities contribute to consistency of quality and shared treatment philosophies.
BrightQuest Treatment Centers
Located in Nashville and San Diego, BrightQuest specializes in complex psychiatric conditions, providing compassionate care to a vastly underserved population. With our unique therapeutic community model, BrightQuest is the long-term residential solution you’ve been looking for to provide your loved one with the tools necessary to live a healthier and more independent life.
Bridges to Recovery
Our Bridges to Recovery locations in Los Angeles and San Diego are designed for men and women struggling with mental health disorders who are seeking a safe alternative to hospitalization for their care. Many clients choose residential care at Bridges to Recovery because, despite their best efforts and dedication to treatment, they still are not living a stable and satisfying life. Our clinical expertise and nurturing home-like residences provide clients a safe and supportive environment to recover and heal. The quality and comprehensiveness of our integrated, intensive treatment program allow for rapid relief from suffering and tremendous growth, all in a few short weeks.