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Upward mobility: Steering recovery in the right direction

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Think of a car, and it is the engine.


The engine moves the car along from point A to point B. However, depending on the driver’s course and direction, the vehicle’s journey can have several outcomes. The car can safely get to point B and experience movement towards its goal. The vehicle can crash on its way to point B and not make it to its destination. This is the stagnation, holding pattern, and deferred progress I was referring to, all of which depend on the knowledge, skills, wisdom, preparedness, and things that push back against relapse.

 

As drivers in our recovery or captains of the ship, if you prefer that metaphor, we all need to steer apparent pitfalls. More importantly, we need to truly understand how far and how much we can push, continue moving forward in our recovery without burning out our engine, or worse, getting injured along the way. I have experienced many injuries and mishaps along the way to my path to health and healing. However, no harm so devastating that I could not keep moving forward. Why? Because I got to know my weak points very well.

 

When I am collapsing, I learned to sit down and take a seat before hitting the hard-cold pavement of relapse and heartache: (a) learn your limits; (b) plan for the worst at all times; (c) know your weak points and nurture your strengths; (d) tally your victories and each marker or indicator you are making progress; (e) when you succeed, prepare to lose ground unless you get to know the mobility and momentum required to keep moving forward

 

Learning limits is a constant reminder of how far you can psychologically and physiologically push your body before accumulating negative feedback or outcomes. Honestly, know that not being mindful of this can lead to the worst of relapses. Keeping in mind a great stretch is this awareness of your limits can be limitlessly fruitful in avoiding potentially harmful and challenging problems in your health path.

Charting your victories, however small, is motivating but clinically helpful in raising your own awareness of what works and what does not move the momentum of healing along.

About the Author

J. Peters

Max Guttman '08, MSW '12, is the owner of Recovery Now, a private mental health practice. Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, therapist and disability rights advocate, Max fights for those without a voice in various New York City care systems. He received a 2020 Bearcats of the Last Decade 10 Under 10 award from the Binghamton University Alumni Association.

Guttman treats clients with anxiety and depression, but specializes in issues related to psychosis or schizoaffective spectrum disorders. He frequently writes on his lived experiences with schizophrenia.

"I knew my illness was so complex that I’d need a professional understanding of its treatment to gain any real momentum in recovery," Guttman says. "After undergraduate school and the onset of my illness, I evaluated different graduate programs that could serve as a career and mechanism to guide and direct my self-care. After experiencing the helping hand of my social worker and therapist right after my 'break,' I chose social work education because of its robust skill set and foundation of knowledge I needed to heal and help others."

"In a world of increasing tragedy, we should help people learn from our lived experiences. My experience brings humility, authenticity and candidness to my practice. People genuinely appreciate candidness when it comes to their health and recovery. Humility provides space for mistakes and appraisal of progress. I thank my lived experience for contributing to a more egalitarian therapeutic experience for my clients."

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