Psychosis is a largely unacknowledged but extremely prevalent factor behind people committing violent crimes and going to jail. In fact, an estimated 3.6% of male and 3.9% of female prisoners have a psychosis diagnosis in prisons worldwide. Psychotic episodes from personality disorders, schizophrenia, or other psychotic disorders can wreak havoc on your life – not just because they make it harder to maintain routines and relationships but also because they can get you into very real trouble with the law.
How do you bounce back from that after having hit rock bottom? If you’re getting out of jail or prison after a psychotic episode, you probably want to take steps to protect yourself and your future. Ensuring you have the tools to stay healthy and in control is important. Of course, your treatment will typically depend on your diagnosis and what you’re facing. However, these tips will help you rebound after psychosis.
Talk to Your Doctor
Your first step should always be to talk to your doctor. That’s true whether or not you have a diagnosis. Here, you should:
- Verify your diagnosis or attempt to get one
- Get a prescription for anti-psychotics
- Get a referral into a mental health treatment program so that your health insurance covers it
Nearly everyone with a psychosis diagnosis will require medication either permanently or intermittently throughout their lives. Most schizophrenia patients require medication for their entire lives. Data shows that about 30% of schizophrenia patients can manage without medication – after 10 years of treatment and learning to cope with symptoms.
This means that talking to your doctor and working out your prescription, if your prescription is still right for you, and how to combine it with therapy is an important first step. You likely need antipsychotics to benefit from mental health treatment. That will mean getting a prescription if you don’t already have one, waiting for it to take effect, and then moving into treatment that can work with you based on those symptoms.
Seek Out Mental Health Treatment
Attending psychosocial rehabilitation programs is one of the most important steps you can take in ensuring your recovery and rebound. In fact, primary treatment for psychosis is a personally tailored mix of talking therapy and medication. This means that you’ll need treatment to ensure that you have the tools to manage psychosis symptoms. Mental health treatment typically includes 30-90 days programs of in-house or outpatient treatment, where you’ll attend a clinic with group therapy, individual therapy, and counseling. There, you’ll learn how to manage symptoms, how to change behaviors to reduce symptoms, and how to build skills and coping mechanisms that improve your quality of life around your symptoms.
Depending on you, that can mean learning to accept symptoms and your psychosis and working to manage it. You might also need help building stress management, routines, and self-care skills. Many people also need help building social networks, managing relationships, and learning to ask others for help. Your treatment will typically depend on where you are and what you need. However, you can expect it to involve behavioral therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy or dialectal behavioral therapy. You’ll also get counseling and group therapy to help you deal with the problems that psychosis cause in your life, to deal with psychosis itself, and to recognize the symptoms of psychosis and react to them with enough time to get help.
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Look for Assisted Living
Assisted living and supported living solutions are an ideal way to rebound from psychosis and jail. Here, you’ll stay in a shared home for several months, sometimes longer. There, you’ll have a routine, set meal times, people to check up on you, and accountability. If you stop going to treatment or stop taking care of yourself, people notice. If you stop spending time with the group or sharing meals, people notice. That forced accountability can be an important part of recovery because it forces you to adopt the routines and schedule of self-care that can help you to stay in recovery.
Of course, assisted living centers aren’t right for everyone and some people get the same out of an inpatient treatment program. However, it can be a valuable way to bridge the gap between no autonomy in prison and total autonomy out of prison by giving yourself accountability and someone to help you with schedules and routines.
Long-term Support and Aftercare
If you’re living with psychosis, it’s a permanent part of your life (although you may have drug-induced psychosis like marijuana psychosis, in which case it may be temporary). However, that normally means you’ll have to look for long-term aftercare and support. That means having people who will notice if you start to slip, having people to check up on you, and ensuring that you maintain your routines. For many, a simple self-help group with weekly meetings will be more than enough for therapy maintenance. However, you’ll want to discuss your options with your therapist based on your progress.
In addition, it’s generally a good idea to have more rather than less support. If you have a probation officer checking up on you, that’s good. If you have a social worker doing so, even better. If you have recurring visits with your therapist to check in on your mental health, even after your treatment is over, even better. Ensuring you have long-term support, options to go back into treatment, and people to help you stay on top of your mental health is important for your long-term recovery.
Tracking Signs of Relapse
For many people, preventing relapse and recidivism is about tracking early warning signs of relapse. For most people with psychosis those symptoms include:
- Irritability or nervousness
- Reduced concentration and focus
- Requiring time alone or more than usual
- Sensitivity to stimulus (noise, light, touch)
- Reduced quality of sleep
- Unusual thought experiences
Depending on your specific diagnosis, that can vary a great deal. Therefore, you should sit down with your therapist to build a list and to learn how to recognize them in yourself.
Long-term care means investing your health for the long-term that means investing in self-care and ongoing support. This means:
- Taking care of yourself with good sleep, eating, and exercise habits
- Having a good routine
- Learning communication and problem-solving skills
- Having social support
- Having meaningful things to do with your time
- Getting ongoing treatment
Many people do prefer to get help with this, especially in the first few years after diagnosis. However, that should often be in the form of professional support and not simply relying on family to help you. This means assisted living, visiting social workers, social care, and even at-home nursing and care. What works for you will vary depending on your situation, but it is an important thing to consider.
If you’re moving back into your life after a psychosis breakdown and incarceration, it’s important to reach out and get help. That almost always starts with your doctor, where you can talk about what your options are, review your diagnosis and prescription, and get a referral into mental health treatment. From there, you can get mental health treatment to ensure you have the tools to manage your disorder long-term, so you can recover, and so you can learn to recognize and act when your mental health starts to go downhill. Good luck rebounding!