Recoverey Strategies: Giving and Receiving Support

  • Giving and receiving support is a dance of partners in recovery.  One of us might have two left feet or be awkward on the dance floor and the other might be perfectly able to take the lead in suggesting the next move.


    I'm a big fan of giving support and of hopefully getting support from others.  A foundation of support can give a person the courage and strength to continue in his or her recovery.


    I do recommend attending a support group at the times in your life when it will benefit you.  At the meetings, you might meet new friends and go out to a coffeehouse afterwards.


    Yet I also consider a fan club to not be the deciding factor in whether a person ultimately does well.  I'm a bigger fan of developing self-reliance and I'll talk about this in detail in another SharePost. 

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    Here now: I'll talk about giving and receiving support.


    I was lucky to have two private therapists at different times who guided me through what I was going through.  I have always had the support of my family.  I'm close to my brother.  Now I have the support of a handful of good friends.  I've seen my current psychiatrist going on 10 years and he's a true professional as well as champion of my dreams.


    The right support can make all the difference.


    Parents: give your son or daughter unconditional love.  You will have to be their rock in their recovery.  You were given the trial of having a loved one with a mental illness.  So rise up to the occasion and be strong and don't quit in your dedication to helping them live as comfortable a life as possible.


    Attend a family support meeting, and see your own therapist if you feel the need.


    Peers: reach out for the support you can get.  Give other peers and the other people in your life support.  Jealousy, or the Green-Eyed Monster, has no place in a person's recovery.


    Remember: all of us have good things we can give each other and learn from each other.  Share your techniques for mental health and be open to picking up suggestions from others who are farther along than you in recovery.


    Always be mindful that you are a person of worth equal to others in society.  If you are secure in yourself, it won't matter if someone else has a seemingly perfect or better life.


    I will tell you I earned what I got in life and it didn't come easy to me.  Coast along if you want, yet refrain from viewing other peers as super-achievers.  Nobody said you had to move mountains if you don't want to.  You're okay just the way you are.  Recovery is not a race nor is it a competition.


    Be who you are in this lifetime: the one and only you.  Regard yourself with a kind and loving eye and it won't matter if other people don't do this.  Examine why you might feel threatened by other people's success. Focus on your own strengths and abilities not your imagined or real shortcomings.


    By giving others support, by reaching out, you will be able to transmute your pain.  The enormity or severity of your challenge doesn't matter.  It's how you respond to it that will determine your fate.  Offer kind words and compliments to the people you meet, whether peers or others.


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    Be specific and clear in what you need when you ask others for support.  Your family members and friends and romantic partners might not know what to say or do.  A simple introduction: "I need you to __________right now" will help them assist you.


    A lot of times our family members will turn away from those of us diagnosed with schizophrenia.  It could be because of stigma or that they're in denial or for any number of reasons.  What matters is that you get support outside your family of origin if necessary.


    So join that support group.  See a therapist.  Write a SharePost here to get comments.


    I'll tell you why the role of stigma and the stereotyping of people with schizophrenia is ultimately irrelevant: life isn't supposed to be a popularity contest.  I don't seek other people's approval so I suggest that you too get validation and confidence by taking risks and setting goals.  You might not always win and you might lose along the way and that's okay.


    I recommend you listen to the Miley Cyrus song "The Climb."  I bought it from the iTunes store for $2.  She recommends it's not how fast you get there or about what's waiting on the other side: it's about the climb.


    I'll talk about setting and achieving goals in further detail in the SharePost on self-reliance coming soon.


    I'll end here by suggesting that giving and receiving support is by its nature a dance of partners coming together in tune.  Yet I wouldn't be upset if others aren't receptive at this time in your life.  Billy Idol in the 1980s had a song about "Dancing with Myself."


    You don't have to wait for a partner to get in the groove in your recovery.


    Yet when you find the right partner or partners it can make things a whole lot easier.


    Stay tuned for the SharePost on self-reliance in the coming weeks.

Published On: February 18, 2013