by Richard Hart
Excerpt from WRAP Plus chapter on Post-Crisis Planning
Returning to your everyday, healthy diet after a Crisis may require some assistance. A trip to the grocery store is often a task that must be undertaken the first day home. One person told me that after the strict regime of “hospital food”, when they went to the supermarket, all they could do was fill the cart with “junk”. Sugar, salt, fat, those foods that were restricted when meals were prepared and snacks were monitored by a nutritionist, became the attractive “forbidden fruit”. The same thing happened with alcohol. This particular consumer, a very moderate social drinker, wound up with a hangover the first morning they woke up in their own bed. Be certain that good food is available when you come home. Don’t be afraid to indulge in any of you favorites, even if they be “guilty pleasures”. Just don’t go overboard.
Folks who are returning to a family after a Crisis have a different set of concerns. As much as we would and do miss our children, depending on the individual circumstance, we may need some help initially resuming our parenting duties. As with those who return to the workplace, a gradual resumption may be best. Some children may enjoy a visit with another family member; older children may enjoy spending some time at a friend’s house. No matter what, the dynamics of returning to family life present concerns that must be anticipated in order to cope with potential difficulties.
As with all the elements of WRAP, a Post Crisis Plan is very individualized. One of the most important considerations is whether or not an individual is living alone. Those of us who live alone have very different concerns than those of us who do not. Making certain that I have a friend stay with me at least the first night I am back home is most important to me and others in my situation. In discussing whether or not one might stay with a friend we felt it was better to be back in one’s own space. However, that first day alone again can be most difficult. After the first day back, one can make a decision as to whether or not additional companionship is needed.
Sometimes, one may not be able to make arrangements to have someone stay with you. Coming home to a comfortable clean home is in that case most important. Folks who discussed this all agreed that many of us have come home to a house that was most unkempt. Exposure to that can bring on distressing memory of our days when “things were breaking down”. Arrangements to have a friend “straighten up”, or hiring someone can make a big difference. I suggest that folks find a good time to clean a friend’s house so that it will be the return of a favor rather than asking someone to do the housework that is a chore to anyone.
Who would think that the mail could be traumatizing? It can. Having a trusted supporter go through one’s mail before we do can shield us from distressing overdue notices and the like. I have found that making out a check is no problem, but reading those awful “PAY NOW OR DIE” notes from a creditor is rough.
Spreading the word to friends and associates that one is “back” is a task that can be a bit daunting to someone in the early stages of recovery. A buddy can be enlisted to call folks to let them know how you are and also let them know if you would like them to visit or call. Some folks may welcome visits, while others would prefer some time to “decompress” before seeing friends. The same is true for phone calls.
Along the same line, – should be thought out carefully. Personally, I have made the mistake of trying to go back to work too quickly. I have found that for me a gradual re-entry is best. Working a few hours for a few days has been good for me.
Finally, after having re-adapted to everyday life, your WRAP plan needs to be revisited. Any Crisis we endure will show us something new about the prevention of another. You may want to enlist the aid of therapist, supporter, and family to examine what can be learned from the experience. Determine if new triggers have been discovered. Talk about early warning signs that may have been unnoticed. Think about additions to the daily maintenance plan. Sharpen the wellness tools you already have and see if new ones will be helpful. Perhaps most importantly, scrutinize the plan for when things are breaking down. Determine what can be done in the future to prevent further crisis. Be especially sensitive to critical signs that may have been ignored or missed. Finally, ascertain the effectiveness of your Crisis Plan.
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.