Post Crisis Planning
By Mary Ellen Copeland
I remember coming home from the hospital feeling great, and as soon as I got there I was bombarded with loneliness, other peoples problems, and all the stuff that probably helped put me in the hospital to begin with [less the drugs and alcohol].
Many of us have found that, through developing a Wellness Recovery Action Plan®, and then putting it to good use, we have significantly improved the quality of our lives. I have certainly found that to be true. However, adding Post Crisis planning to the Wellness Recovery Action Plan® as an option for people who care to develop and use such a plan, can be an important next step in your recovery journey. This need was brought to my attention by Richard Hart who is a Mental Health Recovery facilitator from West Virginia. Recovering after a crisis was an issue in a group he was leading. He felt that it was an issue that deserved further consideration. I agree.
Back in the late 1980's, I was hospitalized repeatedly for deep depression and severe mood swings. Those hospitalizations were somewhat useful. They gave me and my family a much needed break from each other. I got some peer support. I was introduced to some Wellness Tools, although that is not what they were called at that time; things like stress reduction and relaxation techniques and journaling. I was stabilized on a medication regime.
However, any positive effects from these hospitalizations were quickly negated when I got home. Twice, I returned to the hospital within two days of my discharge. Why? When I got home all my family and friends considered that I must be well. I was dropped off at my apartment and spent the next few very trying hours alone. One time a friend who had promised to be there decided I must be napping, didn't bother to call or come. There was no food. The space was messy and disorganized. I immediately felt overwhelmed and totally discouraged. In addition, there was a message that my employer expected me back at work full time in the next few days.
No matter how you work your way out of a Crisis- in a hospital, in respite, in the community, or at home, you may also find that your healing takes a few steps backwards unless the journey out of this very hard place is given careful attention. I have come to believe that, for most of us, it takes as long to recover from a Crisis as it would to recover from any other major illness or surgery. We need assistance and support that can be gradually reduced as we feel better and better. It makes sense that advanced planning for dealing with that critical time would enhance wellness and more rapid recovery.