Did you know that bad things that have happened to you in your life can cause or worsen mental health challenges? There is more and more research confirming the strong connection between traumatic life events and mental health issues. If you feel this is true for you, there are other things you can do to help yourself get well and stay well.
Develop a Wellness Recovery Action Plan
When you are traumatized, you lose control of your life. You may feel like you still don’t have any control over your life. You have to take back that control by being in charge of every aspect of your life. Others, including your spouse, family members, friends and health care providers will try to tell you what to do. Before you do it, think about it carefully. Do you feel that it is the best thing for you to do right now? If not, you should not do it. It is important that you make decisions about your own life. One way to make absolutely sure that you are in charge of your own life is to develop, for yourself, a Wellness Recovery Action Plan. You can do that by attending a WRAP group and/or using the book “WRAP for the Effects of Trauma”.
Talk to One or More People About What Happened to You
Make sure it is a person or people who understand that what happened to you is serious and that describing it over and over again to another person is part of the healing process. It should not be a person who says something like: “That wasn’t so bad.” “You should just forget about it.” “Forgive and forget.” or “You think that’s bad, let me tell you what happened to me.” You will know when you have described it enough, because you won’t feel like doing it anymore. Writing about it in your journal also helps a lot.
Begin Now to Develop Close Relationships with Another Person
You may not feel close to anyone. You may feel like there is no one you can trust. Begin now to develop close relationships with another person. Think about the person in your life that you like best. Invite them to do something fun with you. If that feels good, make a plan to do something else together at another time–maybe the following week. Keep doing this until you feel close to this person. Then, without giving up on that person, start developing a closer relationship with another person. Keep doing this until you have close relationships with at least five people. Support groups and peer support centers are good places to meet people.
Work with a Counselor or Join a Group
If you possibly can, work with a counselor or join a group for people who have been traumatized.
Develop a Wellness Recovery Action Plan so you can do what you need to stay well, and so you can effectively respond to symptoms whenever they come up.
Mary Ellen Copeland, PhD, developed Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) with a group of people with lived experience who were attending a mental health recovery workshop in 1997. She is the original author of the WRAP Red Book, as well as dozens of other WRAP books and materials. She has dedicated the last 30 years of her life to learning from people who have mental health issues; discovering the simple, safe, non-invasive ways they get well, stay well, and move forward in their lives; and then sharing what she has learned with others through keynote addresses, trainings, and the development of books, curriculums, and other resources. Now that she is retired, and that, as she intended, others are continuing to share what she has learned, she continues to learn from those who have mental health issues and those who support them. She is a frequent contributor to this site.