In this series, I’m breaking down the aspects involved in creating a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (W.R.A.P.) and sharing my experiences of the course I did at my local recovery college where I worked on my own individual plan. In Part 1, I talked about what a W.R.A.P. is and why they are helpful. I identified the main principles and introduced the idea of making a wellness toolbox to help you think about activities which you find help your mental health. In Part 2, the focus was on identifying what you are like when you are well and making a list of every day activities which you should do to keep yourself feeling well. For Part 3, we looked at the importance of recognising your triggers or stressors and creating a plan of methods for coping with these when they occur. We also considered our own personal warning signs that we are beginning to become unwell and I shared examples of my signs and actions for combatting these. Today, the focus is on signs of further decline when your coping methods and action plans are not helping you and simple steps you can take to remediate.
Sometimes, I find that even though I’m trying really hard to keep myself well, certain sets of circumstances or aspects of life cause my mental health to deteriorate. When I start to become depressed, it seems like nothing I can do will help and thoughts such as ‘I’m never going to get better’ kick in. Even though I’ve got through periods of depression and anxiety countless times before, I always panic that this is going to be the one time when I stay unwell indefinitely.
When I made my list of signs of decline, I was actually living that depressive and anxious side of my life so it was easy to write everything down but also quite upsetting. I also struggled to come up with coping methods and an action plan and this is where the support of the course facilitator at the college became so important. If you are struggling it’s really important to reach out for help. A family member, a close friend or a therapist can all help to provide objectivity and encouragement in finding a way forward.
Now I’m feeling stable, I have added to my list. In fact, I’ve turned it into two lists – one for times of depression and anxiety and the other for when I’m struggling with hypomania. Here are some examples that may help you get started with creating your own list or lists:
crying a lot
lack of motivation
avoid doing things
anxiety on waking
can’t see a way forward
rocking and pacing
lots of negative self talk
let things upset me that I wouldn’t ordinarily
feeling tired all of the time
very poor appetite – feeling sick
convinced I will never get better
spending money on unnecessary things
not sleeping properly
taking on too much
jumping from one activity to another
thinking I’m superior / better than most
My coping methods / action plan
Go back to my wellness toolbox and choose self soothing and mindful activities
Do things ion my ‘Daily Maintenance’ list even though I don’t feel like doing them
Get some exercise – a gentle walk in nature
Do a meditative activity e.g. colouring in
Write a short action plan for each day
Try to celebrate small achievements
Write a done list of all of the things I have achieved each day e.g. had a shower, ate some lunch etc
I hope my posts are helping in terms of managing your mental health conditions and has shown how a Wellness Recovery Action plan can help with anxiety, depression and symptoms of bipolar illness. The fifth part will be about crisis planning which is particularly relevant for those of you who may struggle with manic episodes and severe periods of depression where someone else needs to take over your care. As my mood disorder is not as debilitating as this and I have learnt to manage hypomania and moderate depression, I did not fill in this part of the plan but I will still be sharing ideas for its completion.
Until next time,