Sometimes I have had episodes, whether that be mania or severe depression when I have been unable to think coherently, been unable to make decisions. Unable to make ‘safe’ decisions. All thoughts of risk go out the window and that is dangerous. Not only can this lead to self-harm, but it can also place those around you in danger. A crisis management plan can be essential as part of a wellness plan.
Plan Ahead with a Crisis Management Plan
What I realized after one of my episodes was that without a crisis management plan, decisions could be made for me and they might be decisions I wouldn’t usually make. The idea of someone thinking I would benefit from ECT (electro convulsive therapy), fills me with dread. But in a situation where I am not deemed capable of making decisions, without a crisis management plan in place, I could be left open to having my decisions made for me. I set about talking to my family, my friends, my GP, about making a crisis management plan.
What is a Crisis Plan?
Put simply, it is a plan that identifies what YOU would like to happen should you be in a position where you are considered unable to make certain decisions for yourself. There are numerous templates that can be found online and they all follow a similar pattern. You choose who you want as your preferred contacts in a ‘crisis.’ It is a way to include contact details of your GP and mental health support team where possible. You can specify what you would want to happen in certain circumstances; for example, I do not grant permission for ECT. This is specifying your wishes and is an important part of a crisis management plan. You should include what medication you take for your condition and in what dosage. You can tailor your plan to your needs.
Who is the Plan For?
The people to consider giving copies to are your employer in case anything happens at work; your partner, husband, wife; or close friends and family. It really can be given to anyone. When writing mine, I spoke to family and friends, explained what my crisis management plan was about and asked if they would like to have a copy.
These are you choices in black and white. One thing I should stress is that a crisis management plan needs to be put together when you are well.
Include known triggers in your plan. This can help those around you spot danger signs. When I head toward an episode, I am not always aware it is happening and someone else spotting that can be vital for my wellbeing. I also know that my actions in the past have put others in potential danger. That is why the crisis management plan is for everyone and not just for you, the person with the mental health condition. Along with triggers, include warning signs. This can help those around you spot if things are not right. For me, I go quiet (and that’s not the usual me), withdrawn, irritable, emotional, angry. I might not always realize this but my manager or colleagues around me every day might spot those signs and be able to communicate that with me. Having that support is beneficial and knowing it is there can help contribute to your wellness.
Good to Talk
Talking about our experiences with our mental health can help others open up. By opening up, the word gets spread and knowledge can grow. That is something that can truly make all the difference.
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