Chronic Mental Illness: Living with Unresolved Symptoms in-spite of Full Adherence to Medication and Psychotherapy

We all have our struggles with mental health problems. Some of us, more minor than others, but nevertheless, nobody’s mental health is perfect. Everyone is going to have a different way of coping with their diagnosis despite the severity and chronicity of their symptoms. This means that minor symptoms can be a major interference in a persons life if he or she has inadequate ways of coping or limited insight how the symptom becomes a disruption in their life.

With more chronic diagnoses and severe symptomology, a good prognosis will mean truly knowing how to manage everyday disruptions and ongoing breakthrough symptoms that complicate life on a moment by moment basis for months at a time without relief. Continued progress towards recovery will mean understanding every setback as a learning moment to improve your rate of reconstitution and return back to baseline because the disruptions will be reoccuring indefinitely.

This means learning to live a life of constant reflection to improve insight and deeper more complex coping skills to reduce the impact of distruptions spilling over to other parts of your life and becoming too overwhelming to manage independently without psychiatric hospitalization to re group and stabilize.

Full adherence to medication and psychotherapy for severe mental health diagnoses unfortunately does not guarantee living symptom free. It only means living life with the least risk of symptom disruption. Radical acceptance that there will always be some symptom management will be helpful in maintaining the momentum required in living with an illness that you will carry for a lifetime.

Pace yourself, and worry less about what’s wrong and more about what can go well with continued hope and hard work. The payoff is knowing you’ve done everything possible to live your fullest despite what’s been thrown in your way of success and wellbeing.

Max E. Guttman LCSW

Max Guttman is the owner of Recovery Now in New York. Max provides psychotherapy, complex case management, community consultation, and self-management skill-building groups. His approach is based on evidenced-based practices (EBP). Max earned a master’s degree in Social Work from Binghamton University. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and a field instructor for both postgraduate and undergraduate students at Lehman College. He is also a social work supervisor and psychotherapist at Courtlandt Avenue Clinic in the South Bronx where he teaches students social work praxis in New York City. In addition to this responsibilities, he manages Mental Health Affairs, a mental health blog.

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