Description: 100% Cotton, 16oz Heavy Duty Canvas Zipper Organizer, 12.5” by 7”.
Story: I have a library of recovery tools at home, shelves and shelves overflowing with words of empowerment. My library includes many informative items related to mental health: (1) illness self-management guides/programs, (2) course materials from various continuing education classes I have taken, (3) wide-raging academic articles, (4) text books and highly informative books regarding bipolar specifically, mental illness generally, chronic illnesses, psychiatric rehabilitation, wellness, and coping strategies, (5) books that help me cope with my condition, including poetry books, highly illustrated books, photography books, meditation tutorials, motivational books, (6) autobiographies and biographies that inspire, (7) conference materials, (8) news clippings, (9) all manner of postcards, leaflets, pamphlets, print outs of interesting internet pieces (binders and binders full of materials – neatly organized, easy to access), and (10) notes from doctor’s visits and other medical records. Learning more and more about my condition and how to best manage it has been key to my recovery. The more I learned, the more questions I had, the more I wanted to learn more.
When I couldn’t find an answer on my own I would ask others – fellow peers, clinicians, NGOs with experience in mental health, etc. I sought answers from people with a wide range of expertise and relevant perspectives, whether professionally or personal informed. I would carefully evaluate the information I received. I’d ask people for the sources of information – is it in a research study, a book, who said what and when? If I was not satisfied, I’d always ask follow-up questions, seek clarifications.
I felt self-empowered through knowledge. I could better understand medical advice. I better knew the right questions to ask. I could better articulate my preferences and offer better guidance to my health care providers. I gained more confidence in the advice and guidance I received. It made me a much better, more cooperative patient. I’d ask one clinician what questions I should be asking another specialist. I feel it obligated my health care providers to act to an even higher standard of care because they knew I asked good questions. They knew that if I was not satisfied, did not understand their guidance, I would challenge them. It significantly enhanced my relationship with my treatment providers.
Very importantly, my learning has allowed me to share my knowledge with others and help them on their own recovery journeys, thereby empowering them. And it is always nearly reciprocal – I share what I’ve learned with my peers and they share what they’ve learned. It is important to note and recognize that although we may share the same condition, our mental health experiences are defined by more than clinical terms. As a community, our experiences are informed by our unique environments and backgrounds. While diverse, in such a vast cross section of our population impacted by mental illness, there are countless shared and relatable lived experiences.
This is what ForLikeMinds is all about – connecting within this community to empower oneself and others through sharing. My questioning and knowledge of my self also complements my doctors’ clinical expertise. Taking full ownership of my illness allowed me to significantly enhance my quality of life and allowed me to take control of my condition, paving the path for sustained mental health recovery. Learn as much as you can and just see the difference it can make in your life.
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