Life is one big transition

Today I’m blogging about a topic chosen by my lovely friend Naomi, you should follow her on twitter @Naomi_Barrow, she talks a lot of sense and is an awesome activist and fabulous lady. Anyway, Naomi suggested I talked about transitions for today’s #MHAW2015 post.

Now seems the perfect time to talk about transitions, as I am mid-transition myself between being an inpatient and out in the real world again (12 days free). At the same time I’ve gone from living in York (student accommodation pre-hospital) and now I’m back to living at home for a while. Transitions are hard, especially for someone who is mental health concerns or needs to think about. I’ve come up with a list of my top tips for managing transitions.

Top tips for smooth(er) transitions:

  • Work out your time scale– think about the time scale before your move/transition and work out the time frame you will have to ensure everything you need is in place. Try not to leave things until the last moment if you can.
  • Make sure you have a support network at home who are aware of your mental health e.t.c. Making appointments and having to start afresh with someone new can be really stressful, but if they’ve already had some information and an idea of the kind of support you will need can be really helpful. It can also be good to have a named person where you will be so you know in advance who you’ll need to talk to if you are struggling. 
  • Plan ahead– as part of my relapse prevention work, I had a meal plan for the first week of being out in the real world. Having ideas of what you will eat, how you will manage your time and the kind of activities you can do if you are at a loss or struggling can be really helpful. Have some kind of notebook/folder with all of that information in is also really helpful as you will have a go-to emergency guide. I had things like a back to basics meal plan (a week of food), back to basics weekly structure (things I needed to do over the week as a minimum if I was low in mood or motivation), emergency meal plan (for one day) and emergency activities plan. 
  • Get yourself a distress tolerance box– I’ll do another post about distress tolerance boxes, they really are amazing. But essentially they’re a go-to place when you’re struggling with things that will soothe you, distract you and generally help you bring intense emotions back down to somewhere more manageable.  Your box could include pictures that make you happy, distraction lists, nice smelly things, touchy feely things and reasons for recovery/to not use a self destructive behaviour. There’s scope for them to contain anything really, it’s just a place to keep all the helpful things you know work for you together.
  • Remember you don’t have to do it alone– Talk to friends, professionals and family members. Try and let them know the things you might feel difficult and ways they might be able to help you if you’re struggling. Keep letters or notes ready that you can give to people if you’re struggling with a guide of how to support you on it. 
These are just a few thoughts, it’s not a definitive list but hopefully it’s a few things to think about. I suppose life is all one big transition and the key is to think about how you can manage them, once you’ve got a good set of skills you can use them in a variety of different settings. Transitions are hard but they are possible, keep going my lovely mental health warriors! 

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