Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Thin Ice Twice

For some of us who have a mental illness, recovery may be like making our way across a lake in winter. The lake, its top a smooth surface of glistening ice, appears safe. At first we hesitate. Finally, we step out. Although the ice feels solid as we carefully step further away from shore, we can’t shake a fearful thought: in some places the surface may be too thin to safely support us, and at any time it could break and we’ll plunge down into a dark icy abyss from which we’re not likely to return.

For those of us supporting a loved one in recovery, the trip across the ice can be just as challenging. We’re afraid about the firmness of the ice, too. Will it prove to be reliable? What if we think we hear the ice start to crack--should we immediately pull our loved one back? We’re not even sure we should be out there with them. If they go down, what’s to prevent us from going down with them?

All of us involved in recovering from the affects of a brain illness, or supporting someone else who is, will have times when we have second thoughts and want to hold back. This is especially true when we’ve never been in this situation before, and we’re not sure that we will achieve the outcome we seek. We’re concerned about the risks involved.

One way to cross a lake in the dead of winter is to seek out others who have successfully crossed the same lake. They will have some experience about crossing safely and can make wise suggestions about where to cross and just how best to go about it. The same holds true for recovering from a mental illness. Others who have been involved in recovery and have experiences of what has worked successfully (or not) can pass on valuable information as well as provide insight and suggestions on what has worked for them (or what hasn’t worked).

Procrastinating from taking any action toward recovery is not helpful. It may even propel things to becoming worse, and possibly catastrophic. Doing nothing is probably our worst choice.

Action with movement toward recovery is essential. How do we do that while avoiding getting caught on thin ice?

Talk with your doctor and therapist. Attend a support group, regularly. Read as much as your can about successful methods of recovery. Learn as much as you can about the illness you’re involved with. Do all these things while you’re taking continuing action.

Stop thinking about it… just do it.

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