“If a person doesn’t achieve zero symptoms, they haven’t failed, but if they are never given the opportunity to achieve that goal, the system has failed them.” Allen Doederlein, DBSA President
What is the first thing you strive for when you have a cold, no symptoms, the ability to breathe again, no coughing or fever? A cancer patient has a goal of no cancerous cells, remission. There is a new movement for those who live with mental illness that tackles this topic, the goal for total remission, the ability to live with no symptoms.
Target Zero to Thrive was a month-long campaign in April to bring mental health professionals, researchers and those who live with a mental illness to work toward a goal of zero symptoms, and not settle for just feeling better. That has been the goal in the past, to simple control symptoms and hope they do not come back. We followed this protocol because that is the way it has always been done, but no more. There is a better life out there, and it is time we found it.
Some will look at this and think that maintaining stability is the same thing; however, it may only bring temporary relief that is often fleeting, and the symptoms persist but to a lesser degree. The true goal here is to eliminate the symptoms all together and allow each person the ability to thrive in their lives and not worry about when their illness returns. Without the opportunity to achieve the goal of zero, the system has not done all it can to help. Why should we settle for just good enough, when there is so much more to strive for?
I have lived with mental illness for nearly 20 years in that amount of time I have seen many doctors and there has never been a real interest in finding a way to control how I feel daily; it has always been a matter of what medication will make you feel better for the longest period of time, or at least until I saw them again. This new idea of working toward total remission is a welcome change in the way of thinking, hope in a sea of medications and doctor visits with nothing to show for it but bills and continued depression, mania and psychosis.
May has been dubbed Mental Health Awareness Month, I hope throughout the next 31 days people are made aware of what we live with and what can be done to help make each day better than the one before. The media portrays mental illness in one way, let’s change their perception.