Crisis prevention is a great goal, but it sometimes seems like the goal is always moving ahead into a cloudy future. How can we get crisis prevention into our action planning right now?
First, think ahead. Any big changes coming up? Starting school, kids starting school, travel, new job, new home. These are the kinds of changes that can be a stress for anyone, and if you’re struggling with moods or depression, you may find it helpful to plan ahead.
Make a plan. What if this happens? What if that happens? What will your crisis prevention plan be if you lose your medications? How about if a big argument blows up at work? Maybe you live in a place where hurricanes or wildfires are an increasing concern. The more preparation you can do ahead of time, the less likely you are to encounter a major crisis.
Write it down. Writing a plan on paper is a good way to cement it in your mind, and to have it handy when it may seem difficult to see a clear way ahead. Write down the steps you will take ahead of time to prevent a crisis and write down the steps you will take if the crisis occurs.
A young man we know decided to go to visit his guru in Sri Lanka. It was a wonderful trip and changed his life for the good. He lost his medications early in the trip and it might have turned into a catastrophe but for the fact that he took our advice and wrote up a crisis prevention plan with all the steps he would follow if the crisis actually occurred.
Another young man went off to make his fortune in China and he did not write out his crisis prevention plan. To our great sorrow, he also ran out of his medications but because he hadn’t done the crisis prevention planning, he ended up going to an emergency room in Shanghai where they totally missed his developing psychosis and discharged him. Later that night he jumped to his death from his hotel room.
Of course we know that won’t happen to you, but if you are thinking about coming off your medications, or taking an important trip, or if you are coming up on a time when you may be more likely to have a mood crisis, this is the perfect time to make sure that you will be fine by making a crisis prevention plan.
The good news is this – in our experience, if you do the work, you will almost certainly prevent a crisis. It also is usually the case that everyone who knows and cares for you will be very relieved to learn that you have a plan.
And it isn’t that hard.
A very good outline for a plan is available from Mary Ellen Copeland. She calls it the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) and you can find out about it using one of these links.