I thought I’d share my current “treatment plan” (as professionals refer to what mad/disabled people do to get and stay well. It could also be referred to as a “wellness toolbox”, “recovery plan”, etc). This is honestly mostly for me to keep track of things, since it’s getting to be a bit complicated, but it might interest others to know how someone with mental, physical, and cognitive disabilities takes care of herself. My main diagnoses are bipolar, autism, and ADHD; though I also have a history of trauma, non-chemical addiction and disordered eating, and some physical symptoms such as insomnia and hormonal fuckery. (It’s yet to be determined the extent to which these physical symptoms are either caused by or cause the mental ones, though there is definitely a strong connection.) Though I am a proponent of the “whole person” philosophy, believing that the mind and body are very much connected and so dividing things up into labels is really just a shorthand for doctors, for the sake of organization and readability, I will divide my treatment plan up into “mental” (emotional), “physical”, and “cognitive” (thought processes).
~psychiatry as-needed (my psychiatrist prescribes psychotropic medication and also recommends over-the-counter meds, dietary supplements, and herbal remedies)
~Recovery Learning Center (peer-run drop-in mental health centers, which offer a variety of groups, classes, and social activities)
~expressive arts therapy studio and also art-making on my own
~Icarus Project (radical mental health activism and support)
~yoga, swimming, and hiking
~birth control to regulate my cycle and hormones
~probiotics to help with my GI issues
~physical therapy and occasional massage for my back, shoulder, and knee pain
~I have a sleep study scheduled for March 3rd to learn the cause(s) of my insomnia
~In the past, I’ve also had nutrition counseling, and may do so again in the future, though likely when I’m no longer in PT and have the time
~again, yoga, swimming, and hiking
~case management/coaching services at my apartment: assistance with life skills such as cooking, cleaning, time-management, and organization
~study skills tutoring through my university when class is in session
~occasional consultation with an ADHD/LD/autism specialist, which typically includes cogmed (working memory training)
~Autistic Self-Advocacy Network
~neurodivergent social activities, including the Autistic Artists’ Collaborative
You may notice that this is a lot.
I spend roughly 8 hours/week at doctors’ offices or on the phone or at my apartment with specialists, and at least for the time being, it’s all absolutely necessary. I am privileged to have health insurance which pays for most of this (aside from the non-clinical things, like yoga classes, and copays.) Some is free, like Recovery Learning Center and the social and support groups, though I am also privileged to live in a large city with access to many options. Not everyone has these opportunities, which is important to keep in mind if you ever find yourself frustrated with someone who is struggling and doesn’t seem to be getting better. Being on disability, I also have the free time to devote 8 hours/week to my health and wellness, which would be impossible with a full-time job.
It does sometimes frustrate me that I have to spend so much time with doctors, because everyone knows that doctors are no fun. I have goals and dreams, like working with children, being a Peer Support Specialist, showing and selling my art, being more involved in activism, traveling, and eventually having a family. Every hour I spend on treatment is an hour less to devote to these goals or relaxing, having fun, and spending time with friends. I remind myself, though, that it won’t be like this forever, and for now, I am very thankful to have the means and opportunity to take care of myself the best I can. It does seem to be helping, which is wonderful.