CHOICES II-17 - We can do this the easy way or . . .

Robin Cunningham Health Guide

    In books, movies and TV shows we've all heard the phrase - "We can do this the easy way or the hard way, the choice is yours."  In any context this line offers a clear choice.  The consequences of that choice are implicit, but nonetheless quite clear.


    In this series, CHOICES II (Choices in Recovery), we are talking about the kinds of choices that those of us with schizophrenia must make in our lives.  Some of these, which are both infrequent and rarely understood by others, are a function of our illness and have monumental, life altering consequences.  Other choices are presented to us each and every day, as they are with the general population.  But for those of us with schizophrenia, these routine daily choices can accumulate and establish trends, habits, or predilections that may have a significant effect on our lives.

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    In recent blogs we have focused on the numerous forms, or sources, of stigma that can prevent us from even undertaking a Journey of Recovery or that might halt our progress once we are underway.  A thorough knowledge of these may be essential if we are to reach our goals.


    In this blog, we will return to a discussion of the Journey of Recovery itself.  I have outlined below what I consider to be the two most fundamental or pivotal choices we must all make and how these choices are likely to affect our lives.


    Primary Decision #1 - You must decide whether or not to accept or seek treatment.


    This decision can be influenced by whether or not you have insight, i.e. whether or not you realize that you are ill.


    If you lack insight and are allowed to refuse treatment, your Journey of Recovery will be over before it has begun and you will in all probability lead a miserable life.


    If you lack insight, but nonetheless agree to accept medications, your quality of life will most likely improve.


    If you lack insight, but accept medications, and if you also find a good psychiatrist, chances are you will eventually come to understand the nature of your condition and undertake a Journey of Recovery of your very own that will significantly improve your quality of life.


    If you lack insight and treatment is forced upon you by the courts, your condition and quality of life will probably improve over time, but the experience may leave a bitter taste in your mouth.


    If you have insight into the nature of your illness, and seek out treatment, recovery will become a possibility for you.


    If you seek out treatment but discover that you are treatment resistant (i.e. there are no medications that work for you) your life will probably be arduous, but need not be without satisfaction.  You can still lead a worthwhile life and leave a valuable legacy.


    If you find medications that restore your capacity for functionality, you will be capable of undertaking a Journey of Recovery.  With hard work and appropriate therapy you can increase your level of functionality and then move on to achieve wellness and fulfillment.  It is in this endeavor that all the little routine daily decisions we make can have a significant impact on your quality of life.


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    Primary Decision #2 - You must decide whether or not to undertake a Journey of Recovery.


    This decision can result in a difficult, but highly rewarding, quality of life.  It is this decision and all the consequences of it, as well as the myriad derivative decisions that we make day in and day out that we will examine in future blogs.


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    In the last analysis, it is for each of us alone to make the most fundamental, as well as the myriad of daily choices, that will illuminate our lives and leave a legacy of hope and an example of courage that may inspire those that follow in our footsteps.


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    Please remember, this writing reflects my own experience and opinions.  If you, or a loved one, are experiencing the symptoms of schizophrenia, or any other mental illness, you should seek professional assistance.


Published On: January 25, 2009