The next step in the WRAP Plan is to list the signs that indicate I need to take action before things get worse. They are changes in the way I think, act or feel, so they are observable, either to myself or others.
This section of the Wellness Recovery Action Plan requires that I face my fears about the initial red flags which indicate an episode is possible. It’s more than just Stressors; it’s actual changes in my thinking and behaving. This is a key part to the WRAP – to recognize these signs as serious and do something about them before they get worse!
These are behaviors or attitudes that point to a potential problem – perhaps a descent into a mental illness episode. For me, indicators include things like listening to my music really loud – perhaps to drown out my spiraling negative thoughts. I apologize a lot, and have excessive guilty feelings. I have a strong desire to speak to my old-time long-term therapist, Ted. I find it hard to concentrate, even for a short TV sitcom. I begin to think “What’s the point?” which is an elusive question, as I don’t define “it;” I guess I just feel fatalistic. I desire to be alone with my self-blaming thoughts. I have trouble making decisions, feel easily overwhelmed, and have a lack of energy.
The Wellness Recovery Action Plan book (copyright 2018) suggests that I review this list of early warning signs regularly, perhaps even daily, so that I become familiar with them and can respond before things get worse. A list like this can be an inventory of emotions and behaviors to note. If I am experiencing several of them, I need to ask myself what’s going on, and why I’m feeling out of sorts. And I need to put the next part of my Action Plan into place.
The wellness tools I will use if I see these early warning signs are:
- Tell my husband, sister, and friend
- See my therapist
- See my psych doc
- Listen to my music playlists that are encouraging and uplifting
- Have a coffee date with a friend
- Rock in my glider
- Try to interrupt the spiraling thoughts with the truth of God’s Word
- Email, maybe even FaceTime, my old therapist.
Other actions might be to take a walk, or do some stretching exercises.
In the future, I might make this into two lists – one of actions I must take, and one of actions I might take, when I observe these early warning signs. And I can always go back to my Wellness Tool Box and pull activities from there to help me avert a depressive episode.