We plan for a lot of different things in our lives, creating budgets, itineraries, schedules, savings accounts, right down to having flashlights for when the power goes out. One thing a lot of us don’t plan for is a mental health crisis. The word “crisis” can seem extreme and intimidating, but when you or a loved one gets to a point where you feel like there is no solution in sight, having a detailed plan is crucial and potentially life-saving. I certainly didn’t plan for how my life was upended when I was attacked, or how the long road back to a new normal would take.
When recovering addicts leave rehab, most recovery centers will have them fill out a sheet of paper that details what signs of potential relapse to look out for, who to call when temptation arises, and which meetings are close by that they can attend. This organized and personalized plan saves lives and takes out the hard part of figuring out what to do when your head is spinning with intruding thoughts. The same kind of plan is used for those suffering from mental illness and is commonly referred to as an Advance Directive for Planning Mental Health Care, but most of us aren’t even aware such a thing exists. The Advance Directive can be used for yourself or for someone you’re close to who suffers from any array of mental illnesses, especially those that involve psychosis and mania.
Within the mental health crisis plan, any common triggers, symptom manifestations, and effective strategies are detailed. This makes it easy to recognize signs of a crisis so that you can act quickly and deal with it exactly how you or your loved one needs to in order to keep them safe. It is also extremely beneficial to include emergency contact information, a list of current medications, any allergies, and treatment history so that if any kind of inpatient care is required the process will go smoothly and quickly. Once a person gets to the point of needing to use this plan, trying to come up with these things on the fly is a very difficult and often impossible task. If you are creating this plan for yourself, it is imperative that someone you trust also is aware of it and knows how to help you.
It is always best to be over-prepared instead of ill-prepared in a case of mental illness. Recovery is not linear, and we never know when we might need some extra help. If you or a loved one is going through a crisis, having a detailed plan can take so much headache and stress out of an already stressful situation.
It's all about communication, with your doctors, your loved ones, and yourself. That’s the key to treatment and support that truly works.