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It is recommended that the reader print the “Flash Drive Forms” and “Terms and Definitions” page prior to reviewing this online educational platform to aid one’s comprehension and understanding.

Who is at the Helm?

The Essentials

The title, “Who is at the Helm?” speaks to the premise captured in this metaphor, “Who is the head of your household?” Is it ‘The Illness’, i.e., mental health condition, or is it you leading?

In “The Recovery Protocol Breakthrough”, the helm of one’s household operates between two polarities of living. The polarity exists on a continuum between “Illness Living” and “Person Centered Living”. This swing of polarity characterizes major psychiatric “diseases” as being fluid and therefore impressionable. The construct of fluidity shows us that mental health disease, ebbs and flows; comes and goes in intensity; cycles in duration and frequency; as well as in timing. These attributes suggest that mental illness is rather malleable and not a rigidly fixed entity like a “bacterium” as represented in physical disease. This construct of fluidity offers hope for change, influence and recovery.

The “Bacterium” Illusion
In Citizen Psychiatry, major psychiatric disorders, as “diseases”, are construed culturally in our Westernized psyche to operate within a framework attaching attributions of rigidity and a fixed nature with a programmed itinerary, like a “bacterium” in physical medicine. And like a “bacterium”, it is presumed that a mental illness can be seen and measured with precision with its trajectory known. Add to this cultural supposition, a bacterium invader, requires an outside agent to break up its detectable form and disrupt its DNA trajectory, which occurred with the discovery of antibiotics. While this bacterium approach works in physical medicine, for psychiatric medicine, this is a myth.

For example, with depression, there is no bacterium-like entity corresponding to the disease itself and as such the illness cannot be measured nor its trajectory known through bio-tests. Psychiatric diseases, on the other hand, are constructed diseases, by symptom typology to standardize their symptom pattern for indentifying each mental health disease. Since there is no solid bacterium present, mental illnesses can be conceived as fluid conditions sensitive to influence and experience generated by living one’s recovery mindset, whether robust or limited in scope.

The Adoption
The crossover of physical medicine’s construct of a disease adopted by psychiatry’s bio-medical approach, though a very powerful model, has contributed to the entrenchment in the populace’s psyche of the mythical bacterial attributes attached to mental illness. This entrenchment has placed constraints on the consumers’ belief that they hold the influence of “agency “as a treatment factor and in the making of a recovery. As such, “Pill” taking, as an outside agent of influence, has taken the dominant position in producing change.

As a result, the belief held by consumers, to their harm, is that the only way to loosen the grip of a mental illness is by chemical means. Such beliefs, unintentionally, remove “agency” as an effective recovery agent in its own right. This dismissal has excluded agency as a crucial “x” complementary factor in the treatment equation for main street psychiatry.

In summary, “The Recovery Protocol Breakthrough” views major mental illnesses as being fluid; impressionable, ebbing and malleable. This alters our construct of these illnesses towards having greater sensitivity to influence by “experience”.

Hope and Inspiration
As it turns out, the evidence is clear, “experience”, changes biology for the better or to its detriment. When “agency” is applied alongside hopefulness (AH-pronounced like Ahhh), by an individual, this generates the “experience” of influence that can impact the biology of mental illness as a disease, for the better. The fluid construct of mental illness allows for this impressionable disease to be influenced by an individual’s recovery mindset. This, in turn, breeds the “experience” of making a recovery a viable outcome in treatment.

The nature of a mental health disorder as a fluid disease allows “agency” and “hopefulness”, the experience of AH, applied as agents of experience acting as a complementary co-partner in treatment. However, these agents of clinical influence, are, more importantly, what drives a personal recovery into realization. It is the influence connected to exercising a person’s psychology of recovery that provides the right experience required to shape the biology of mental Illness as it migrates on the polarity axis between“ Illness Centered Living” and “Person Directed Living”.

The Recovery Continuum
The polarity phenomenon between “ Illness Centered Living” and “Person Directed Living”, also called “Person- Centered Living”, is essential to grasp, as this conceptually builds and holds space for “agency and “hopefulness” (AH) as agents of influence and change. The objective of the Recovery Protocol Breakthrough mission is to provide the environment for individuals to maximize residing in the “Person Directed Life” zone while minimizing time spent living an “Illness Centered Life”. This is “earned capacity” at work.

Discovery Exercise
Here is a discovery exercise, below, to further illuminate the fluid nature of psychiatric disease.

We recommend this exercise be completed and reviewed at periodic intervals. The exercise builds awareness through observation of the fluid nature of mental illness disease vs fixed construct of a physical illness and how this plays out with the polarity positions described. The exercise also asks people to reflect on the results and their implications for one’s recovery. These observations and reflections are recorded in a Journal.

The following exercise can be explored whether or not one decides to more formally apply this program’s protocol streams. For those who are formally applying the protocol, it is strongly recommended to engage in the following exercises for maximum results and for gaining further insights and understanding.

A journal, copies of tracking scale and writing instruments.

Polarity Tracking:

Mark on this scale, with an “x” your perceptions as to where you are residing in your life, on average, between the “Illness Centered Living” zone and the “Person Centered Living” zone based on one’s decisions and actions during the cycle period of observation.

Consider this criteria example to help.

You are going to bed knowing your teeth have not been brushed in five days because of the illness’s mood of depression, even though it is important to your teeth’s welfare. These five days of not brushing are an example of Illness-Centered Living based on the pulling mood effects of depression. However, today, you are going out with a friend, who you have declined to meet up with repeatedly over the last two months and decide, this time to brush your teeth, though the mood resistance of The Illness still exists.

The five days of no teeth cleaning is an example of acquiescing to the pull of The Illness leaving one residing in the Illness-Centered Living zone. The brushing off of a friend is also considered an illness-centered set of actions for the same mood-setting reasons of pandering to the effects of depression. However, the decision to see a friend and clean one’s teeth are Person Directed Living actions. Why? The values place on friendships and health are in line with who you are and the fallout for ignoring these values tends to further darken living with the depression’s mood even more. The other why, is in knowing one always feels good after seeing a friend which leaves one feeling more hopeful and this tends to lighten the mood of the illness experienced. Both of these recovery actions countering the pull of The Illness denote exercising “personal agency” and building “hopefulness” shaped by the experience of The Illnesses biology, if consistently applied. If there was no pull of resistance by The Illness, in this example, then the decision to see the friend and the brushing of teeth is also considered in line with one’s commitment to health, connections and upliftment held with “Person Centered Living”.

Using this example, consider on average, the actions and decisions taken, during the cycle of observation, to determine in one’s judgment how much fell in the illness-centered zone and person-centered zone. Mark with an “x” on the scale your perceptions. Such decisions and actions whether daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally and yearly, impacts the overall aggregate, on average, of which zone is primarily lived. The swing back and forth between these two polarities of living over the time interval of recording, on average, is what is recorded on the scales axis.

Instruction Summary: Determine the time intervals to start. There are 3-time intervals for recording on this line scale: a) daily- morning, afternoon, evening, b) weekly and c) monthly. Chart all three intervals as one round of recording. With a weekly interval, pick the same day and time to make the recording. When it is time for a monthly recording, land on the 30-day mark of that recording period or around there. The first recording round of data becomes a control or reference data group with which to compare future measurements. Ensure that each interval recording is dated and time stamped and named as to whether this is a daily, weekly or monthly data point. Each time interval is recorded on its own separate scale. At no time is one scale used for more than one recording.

The key to charting is consistency, over time. This makes for good data collection.

(Note: copy, paste and print the number of individual scales above used for a round of recording.  A round of recording is done within the same 30-day period. Keep your recordings organized.)

Instructions: Daily Interval
The duration for this recording interval is 2 weeks. (Tips: If one has a Fitbit, set it to alert you for recordings. Or, if one has a cell phone, set the alarm for similar purposes). For daily recordings, there are 4 prime zones: 1) morning, 2) afternoon, 3) evening, and optional 4) overnight. Each person decides on the definition of the time range for each time zone. Make a recording at the same time for each zone.

Instructions: Weekly Interval
The duration of this recording period is for 4 weeks. This recording occurs every seven days. Do a recording on the same day 7th day throughout the recording period. Reflect and land on an overall impression for those 7 days on average, for where one would have resided on the scale for “Illness Centered Living” or “Person Directed Living” camps.

Instructions: Monthly Interval
This recording is done at the end of a 4-week interval period. Reflect and land on an overall impression for the 28-30 day period of where one resided on the scale on average for “Illness Living” or “Person Centered Living” camps.

Look over the landscape of the recordings. Notice movements, incremental or significant and changes in positioning between polarities.

Reflect on what this says about the nature of fluidity or rigidness of mental disease. Contemplate what could account for the variations in the data collected and what this could suggest about the nature of influence and how malleable in experience it is to lifestyle, circadian rhythms, stress, people, and mental state (thoughts and emotions). Place your reflections in a journal.

Engage in this exercise at least bi-annually. These recordings used in conjunction with the Core Stream Programs for The Recovery Protocol Breakthrough add significant feedback about recovery progress and status.

“We are all in this together.”

-The Recovery Specialist