During the recovery process from schizoaffective disorder there have been a number of things I’ve learned that have helped facilitate and streamline my recovery. It was a long process but knowing some of the ways I can be most effective as a patient has been really helpful.
The first thing I learned about recovery is that I have to show up on time every time and be ready to work. Recovery is an on-going process that requires a lot of work but it’s work worth while. Sometimes I thought it was unfair that I was in this situation but I learned that having schizoaffective disorder was not something that was my fault, it’s just one of life’s difficulties that I have to deal with. I realized I wasn’t given a choice and that my only choice was that I had to put in the work to make myself healthy enough to get to where I could have all the things I wanted out of life; like having full-time work, friends, a girlfriend, and a place of my own to live in. I learned there are no panaceas and that I had to put in the work every single day in order to get to a point where I was fully recovered.
The second thing I learned is willingness. When I was at therapy a few important things I did were having an open-mind towards what my doctor was telling me. I was very stubborn early-on and I think this delayed my recovery quite a bit. There were a lot of thoughts from my episodes related to my stubbornness that had to be dug out but just having some willingness to at least listen to my doctor was really helpful.
Third, I realized that another important part of therapy was having the courage to disclose information I was afraid to disclose. Initially, I was afraid to disclose information about traumas that were socially taboo and difficult to talk about but I soon learned that my doctor is on my side no matter what. Once I transitioned into being on the counseling side I learned that my doctor was expecting to have some adverse and awkward conversations with me and was going to help me no matter what I told him. I learned the things that I thought were awkward and socially taboo were actually pretty common place.
Fourth, I learned to make my therapy sessions a positive environment for my doctor. The best way to get the most out of my doctor was to be willing to participate and to treat him with respect. I do this because it’s the right thing to do and I like my doctor but it also helps to improve the recovery process.
Fifth, it helped when I actually did my homework. This meant bringing data points and information into therapy that I could discuss with him. I also learned that therapy doesn’t have to happen exclusively at the doctor’s office. I began journaling and I worked on the things I could handle on my own and saved the more difficult issues I was having trouble with for my doctor. This helped to immensely expedite my recovery. I also did a lot of self-education and read a lot of quote books and literature to provide me with useful wisdom to help combat all the trauma I had been through. I learned that in psychology, you fight trauma with wisdom.
The sixth thing was that once I learned that I was going to have to put in the work I realized there was a lot more to recovery than just putting in the work at therapy. I learned when I was at my normal job I had to do a good job at anything and everything I was doing. I didn’t have to be perfect at anything but consistently putting in a good days’ work helped to expedite my recovery. This helped because it put me in the right frame of mind to go home and do good work on myself. On days where I didn’t do a good job at work I would go home and try working on my mental health and I struggled to resolve anything.
Seventh, I learned to make as many good decisions as I could in every aspect of my life. This has been the most effective form of self-help. I used to speed on the highway so this meant driving at safe speeds and being a safe driver. I used to not help out at home so this meant doing the dishes and contributing with the cleaning, and taking out the trash, and things of this nature. And last, I used to eat unhealthy so another part of recovery for me was becoming a healthy eater. I didn’t have to be perfect at all these things but doing good work and making good decisions helped me in my recovery. I learned to do these things out of common courtesy for others but I also realized that they helped me to recover from schizoaffective disorder and to have a life worth while.