There are countless clichés that tackle the whole theme of how a journey has only just begun at the point most would consider to be its end – and you’ll often encounter the trope in fiction, where a large and menacing adversary is finally defeated only to utter “I will be back!” in one form or another.
As a real-life example of a menacing adversary, mental illness sometimes has the capacity to declare the same thing. When diagnosed with a mental disorder, treatment isn’t an acute process alone. You can’t expect life to return to “normal” after a mental diagnosis – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
We’re human beings – we live in a world that is in a state of flux, and having the capacity to adapt and survive is an integral part of overcoming the limitations of a mental disorder. But treatment, while acute and effective, isn’t always the end of the journey. It is, in fact, the beginning.
Aftercare is what we here at Vantage Point consider the study and utilization of techniques designed specifically to ensure that whatever progress you made so far is capitalized upon, grown upon, and turned into a strong, powerful foundation for more knowledge and growth in how to take care of yourself.
We speak often about how personal empowerment is a big part of our philosophy, and part of that is because we believe that, given how complex and unique a mental illness usually is, the only person who can truly end the vice grip of an illness is you. We give you the tools, the means, the knowledge, but you have to walk the talk and follow through with the treatment to eventually get to the point where you no longer need medication or regular therapy in order to effectively keep your illness in check.
For some people, that point is farther away than for others – but everyone has the potential to reach it. Reaching it, however, is just a single goal in a journey that never ends. Once you decide to dedicate yourself to getting better, a portion of your life will always be spent being conscious of your emotions and your mood specifically to prevent a relapse. We know that even after therapy, there are times when things can get really rough – and aftercare is needed.
Here at Vantage Point, the journey continues not just alone, but in a group. To us, the biggest boon and help a person can have to continue to get better after treatment ends is in the hands of a supportive community. While you may not need more one-on-one therapy, you do need a therapeutic outlet – and a place where you can feel safe and free from judging eyes is important for that.
That is why we also focus on helping your friends and family better understand your condition and your circumstances as treatment is ongoing, so that when you return home, you have a stronger basis of support on which to lean on when things get tough and you need some help.
We may be delving head first into another trope when we say that you can indeed fight depression, anxiety, PTSD and other mental conditions with the power of friendship, but it’s the truth. Some people like to seek a little solitude more than others, but no one truly wants to be lonely. And it’s in no one’s best interest to be alone. We need others to interact with, bounce off of, and grow alongside. We need others to learn from and to teach, in order to continue to mature and find out new things about ourselves. And the better you understand yourself, the easier it’ll be for you to be mindful of how your mind functions, and how to regulate and keep your emotions in check.
Outside of your immediate friends and family, the community at large is also an important part of the aftercare process. A good way to continue to find new ways to regulate your emotional state and cope with your mental condition is by seeking out experiences around you, and opening yourself up to new, positive encounters. Join a social club of some sort, go partying with a few trusted friends, and head out to eat at restaurants with others a bit more often, or pick up a group activity like kayaking or biking.
The more you begin to extend yourself in the community around you, the more confident you become – and with time, you’ll feel far more comfortable within your skin, and far more capable of suppressing and even ignoring the negativity that used to brood inside you.
Think of it as an expanding circle, one that with every new push creates an exponentially larger amount of possibilities to explore. It starts at home, then moves onto close friends, and in time, responsibly seeking out new experiences in your town or neighborhood can help you create a larger support network.
Even after treatment ends, we don’t want you to think that our ties to you as a patient are entirely severed. We offer a resource center for patients who have undergone extensive treatment with us, specifically for aftercare tips and techniques that they can apply themselves.
The mind is still mostly an enigma to us, but we’ve come a long way in the past few decades towards better understanding what makes most humans tick. Here at Vantage Point, we offer a breadth of self-help resources and knowledge for patients to pick up and try out, from mindfulness techniques, yoga classes, fitness tips and helpful lifestyle choices, to guides on how to get back into the workplace environment after intensive residential care, or things to avoid and embrace when tentatively returning to a full life after treatment.
Aftercare isn’t just a collection of techniques or tips to follow as preventative measures for your symptoms – aftercare is a life-long process of taking care of yourself, your body and your mind. Here at Vantage Point, we will help guide you through the beginning steps of the aftercare process, so you can continue onwards through the rest of your life confident in your own ability to keep yourself mentally healthy.