Consumer Recovery Movement

I part ways with most people in the consumer recovery movement.

I do not subscribe to the consumer view that “acting symptomatic as a coping skill” is acceptable.

Far healthier options exist in my viewpoint. Like going for a long walk, keeping a journal to document your feelings, your life, and your goals.

I will not tell other peers that it’s OK to be actively symptomatic the rest of your life rather than to take the medication that can stop the symptoms.

You have a harder hurdle to jump over when your symptoms are so severe that you can’t function.

I do believe that individuals who are symptomatic (like Elyn Saks) CAN BE SUCCESSFUL. I don’t doubt this.

Simply: if you have the ability to live without symptoms or can minimize your symptoms so they’re not intrusive: that’s the better option if you ask me. Rather than the “do nothing” approach that some consumer peer specialists advocate for their patients, which includes not taking medication and experiencing symptoms raging full-on.

I realize that some people have ongoing symptoms. That’s why at HealthCentral I’ve been writing news articles about coping strategies for dealing with different symptoms. I will continue this month with a focus on schizophrenia and anxiety. The last articles were about overcoming isolation, dealing with paranoia, and coping with hearing voices, as well as an overview of trauma.

What do I think? Whole swaths of peers are being ignored, or else are given questionable “advice” when other people do talk to them and acknowledge them.

I speak from my own experience. And it is this: when a symptom like paranoia grips you, and it goes too far (to the red on the right of the dial), a person is no longer in control.

I advocate for taking control. And for most people, that might require taking medication.

I stand in solidarity with the families of the 4 percent of loved ones with severe mental illnesses. Rep. Murphy has reintroduced the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act in congress. I will lobby to get it enacted into law.

Doing nothing is not the answer. Delaying getting treatment until it’s unavoidable is not the answer.

I will talk in here next about an alternative focus that I’ve titled The Positive Psychiatry Movement.

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Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She owns a resume writing and career help business. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and a fitness buff.

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