It’s early morning at 5.15 a.m. The birds are singing, and finally, it’s warm. A mental illness labeled as schizoaffective disorder is the reason that I’m on a Recovery Journey. It’s a grave disorder, one that even can become life-threatening. The suicide rate among those affected is higher than in the average population. Besides, it can cause careless behavior. I’m pretty lucky to have made it till now, and I’m grateful that things are currently going in the right direction. I’m among those people who have chosen or were urged to take medication. It’s one of the measures that help me. Finding the “right” medication and dosage for an individual isn’t a simple thing and can be an ordeal as well. Other crucial factors in my recovery process are the people involved, like my family and friends, as well as my psychotherapist. I’m thankful to a number of people who I can talk to regularly to discuss matters and who give me support in day-to-day life if necessary. It’s a blend of activities and influences that help me to remain stable. I’m determined to go forward and continuously trying to figure out and discover what I can do for myself. No doubt, there are people with whatever diagnosis that can go without medication. They may have found a different set of strategies to cope with symptoms and the effects of their condition. About fifteen years ago, when I was hospitalized with my initial psychosis, I was not given any medication. Instead, I did spend three months in a milieu-therapeutic setting. This concept is lived by in so-called Soteria houses.
At the time, this was sufficiently supportive of making my way slowly back into life. It was about a year later, during a new episode, that the doctors of a university psychiatric hospital felt that I’d be better off if I took medication. However, it wasn’t my last relapse. The type of drugs used has changed several times. At one stage, I was so fed up with it that I stopped taking them. This decision and other factors ultimately led to another episode. Medical treatment undoubtedly cannot be the sole approach to treating mental disorders. There are other factors, at least just as important. I’m sure I’ll mention this again and again and also write about these factors from my point of view. I think that service users must be involved in the decision-making concerning their well-being as far as possible. A way to ensure this is by drafting an advance directive for the case of an inability to act caused by acute mental distress.
I’m going to take my morning medication now. Something I’ll do many more times. I admit there’s this little voice in my head that would like to try to do without it. But no! It’s not the time for this. Also, I only would stop taking pills if a doctor agreed and was willing to accompany me through the process. This would be an intense process indeed, and therefore quite a few things should be taken into consideration.
Everyone has different experiences with this. If you are affected by a mental disorder, I’d like to encourage you to hope to find your unique way of dealing with your situation.