Psychotic Break Survival Skill Kit: Mild Impairment

Have you been diagnosed as having a psychotic disorder or being treated for psychosis? Are you prepared for your psychosis to worsen? Begin preparing yourself for the worst when you are first diagnosed. This means getting to know how your psychotic symptoms impact you on a moment by-moment basis, self-reflection, and practice. This article will explore all three phases of preparedness. Please review the survival skills learned here with your therapist before implementing them in your living environment.

On a moment by moment basis, get to know yourself, and how others evaluate your mental status. In the event you have a full break you will need to communicate with people for your basic needs. For example, you cannot walk into a supermarket and buy groceries without speaking with a cashier. For obtaining medication, you will need to communicate with a pharmacist. At the onset of your diagnosis you should become familiar with these people and life processes (how do these people respond to you when you are feeling normal? How do they respond when you don’t feel so well?) .

You will need to execute these activities of daily living without incident at every level you are able to function even during a break so be prepared.  Knowing how to complete these tasks at different levels of functioning will be critical for completing them seamlessly when you’re operating at diminished capacity or during a break. Reflect on your experiences. Ask yourself questions about how you felt the task could have been completed a different way or improved upon.

Be sure to reflect on the people you interacted with and evaluate how they responded to you when you felt fine or how they were when you were hearing voices? This is a great way of knowing if this person can be relied upon when you aren’t feeling so well. If he treated you with disrespect each time you were hearing voices but nicely when you felt normal this is not a person to include in your survival plan.

Many psychotic disorders are life-long illnesses. You should always be practicing your survival skills. Always discuss with your therapist and review the outcome and results of practicing and revise your plans accordingly. Do you usually get lost on the way to the supermarket when you are oriented partially? By revising your plans you will improve your possibilities for navigating a break each time and more importantly your safety.

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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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