February 28, 2020
After surviving mental health and/or substance use issues, you did the work you needed to get through treatment. Some people feel much stronger immediately after treatment, particularly in comparison to where they started. Staying strong after treatment is another thing altogether, because life happens. As you get back into life and everyday problems as well as having to face your past or deal with family and friends who are not healthy, it can be a struggle to keep that strength that you found in treatment.
Maintaining Your Mental Health
It is one thing to work through treatment and begin a recovery journey. That is really, really difficult. But maintaining that mental health takes strength and it takes endurance. Keeping the habits of self-care in place when you are re-entering a world you were once in, but under very different circumstances, takes a lot of strength. But you know that being mentally healthy is better than what you did before, so you persist.
You guard your sleep fiercely. You are careful to keep your doctor appointments and carefully follow their medical care. You are meeting with your therapist and any other sponsors or coaches you need. You are eating more healthy foods and exercising regularly. You are taking time just for you, no matter how busy life gets. These are the very basics of maintaining your mental health.
Ways to Stay Strong
• Find a Meeting – find a mental health or substance recovery support group for people your age. If you cannot find one in your area, make one. Or create an online meeting. There is such a need for support of mental health, particularly amongst adolescents, and your strength could impact other people and create a community of mental health warriors. There is so much power in shared experiences, and you can lift one another up and share burdens as you are all looking to maintain mental health and stay strong.
• Journaling – Just as journaling can be powerful during treatment, it can be very helpful as you continue on your path of wellness and healing. As you write regularly, you can also use your journal entries to chart your moods and behaviors in order to help you to stay healthy. It is also a useful tool for you to track your progress and see how far you have come on your journey of mental health.
• Set Goals – No one ever reaches the stars by sitting on the ground and doing nothing. You have already accomplished so much in seeking treatment for mental health and substance issues. Now you need more challenges. Not necessarily outrageous challenges, but just goals that will keep you focused. Even if your goals are simply to keep your mental health habits regularly, write them down. There is so much power in writing things down.
• Find a Purpose – If you find yourself less engaged in your life, just going through the motions, then find a purpose. Find a cause that you believe in and find ways that you can contribute to the cause. For example, you could create a mental health club at your school or in your community. Or you could raise money for mental health awareness and give the funds to an organization that helps young people with mental health issues. Your purpose could be anything that you are interested in, it just needs to be something that does give you purpose.
Asking for Help is Not a Weakness
There is a reason that you build a support network: to ask for help. Asking for help takes immense strength, it is not a weakness at all. You must be strong enough to realize that you need help, then strong enough to ask for help. Never be afraid to ask for help. Fear is actually a greater sign of weakness than asking for help. Don’t live in fear, be strong. Ask for help.
Reach Out for Support
Your support network is your safety net in the real world. They can be there for you to talk when you need someone to talk to. They can be someone you report to about school, work, your mental health goals, emotional issues, challenges with friends or family. They can be there for you with whatever you need to stay strong and be healthy.
Involve the people you trust in your short and long-term goals. You can report to one of them about your progress, or even get actual physical help from them, such as getting rides to a job interview or doctor appointments or whatever. Your support network is who you can turn to when you need references for jobs or college applications and so much more. They have your back, now let them do their jobs. Be strong and ask for help.
You have passed the first part of your journey, which was intense and powerful. Now you need the endurance to stay strong for the rest of your journey. You can stay strong by maintaining your mental health, asking for help, and finding ways to support your journey. The road is a long one, but as you seek to maintain your strength, you can have some control over how difficult the journey is. By advocating for yourself and making good choices ahead of time, you will have the strength to endure the bumps and twists in the road. Stay strong. You’ve got this.
You can stay strong after treatment at Potomac Programs. For questions call 1-855-809-0409. Your mental health is worth fighting for.