Mental Health Monday: Regaining Control

It’s just over a year ago now that I was discharged from hospital, having spent nearly six weeks being treated for severe depression, and it’s almost a year ago that I attended my first Recovery College course: Regaining Control – It’s Up to Me. I remember feeling like a zombie as I walked into the room and found an empty seat at the table, wary of the other people already there – my life was still a foggy haze, and I had no real idea how to get out of it – but by the end of the two-and-a-half hour session, I had a sense that I could regain control of my life and start moving in a vaguely forward direction.

My recovery has been a long, gradual and mostly gentle process. It started in hospital, where, for the most part, I felt my views were listened to and my wishes, respected. The psychologists were particularly empowering as they took the time to chat to me about all that was on offer in hospital, and left the decision about what to go to, completely up to me. Since leaving hospital,  I’ve continued to be encouraged and supported by health care professionals (especially my Community Support Worker) and friends and family alike, and as a result, and as I’ve learned more and more about mental health, mental illness and recovery, I’ve moved from being in the passenger seat to being in the driving seat of my recovery. I guess I’m one of the mental health care system’s success stories!

The ‘Regaining Control – It’s Up to Me’ course was a great one to start my Recovery College journey on. We explored how taking personal responsibility can contribute to not only recovery, but also to staying well. We looked at how it can be the first step toward achieving personal freedom and regaining control of our lives. For me, the severe depression and anxiety I was experiencing before I was admitted into hospital was triggered (in part) by a lack of control in a certain area of my life, and, as the illness took hold, everything in my life, and especially in my mind and body, felt as if it were spinning out of control. It seemed to me that I was trapped in a never-ending downward spiral of fear. Fear bred more fear bred more fear bred more fear …

I couldn’t have started my recovery without my admission to hospital – I needed to be somewhere safe while the doctors figured out how best to help me – but once I was out of hospital and had started attending Recovery College courses, I started taking back control of my life, started making decisions for myself, started doing things again that I’d had to stop doing before. The fear didn’t go away completely (It still hasn’t, if I’m honest.) but I feel I have a form of control over my life, not a tight control – that was part of the problem before – but a kind of light control as if I’m holding it in the palm of my hand rather than clutching it in a death grip!

One of the quotes from the Regaining Control course that’s stuck with me is:

Accept personal responsibility; achieve personal freedom.

I love that. I’ve realised that although the medical profession can facilitate my recovery, it’s up to me to implement the changes I need to make. I have to accept responsibility and do what needs to be done. Putting this into practice by keeping up with my wellness habits, is one way I’ve taken personal responsibility and am achieving personal freedom. The things I do everyday are helping to keep me well and are making me more resilient. I am not dependent on others for my recovery. I am in control of my actions – no one else can live my life for me.

Another quote that’s stuck with me is:

Responsibility is the ability to choose your response.

I can choose how I respond to challenges and triggers now. I don’t have to react or over-react; I can respond appropriately. That sounds simple, but simple does not mean easy. Responding appropriately is something I’m going to have to work on for a long time to come, but I am choosing to work on it – that’s me taking personal responsibility and choosing freedom over fear.

As well as the concepts of responsibility and control, we explored things that we should take responsibility for and things that we shouldn’t take responsibility for – but I’ll save that for another post as this one is getting long!

To finish, I’ll leave you with a few more quotes from this course, as they do a great job of summing up the journey I’m on.

The price of control of one’s life is personal responsibility.

You are the expert on yourself. You are best placed to know what you want and need.

You will get more out of life and your recovery if you take personal responsibility for your wellness.

Your life is going to happen anyway … wouldn’t you rather have the major say in it?

Thanks for reading! Wishing you every blessing. xxx

You can read more of my Mental Health Monday posts here.

(Image source: Pixabay)

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