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This series by Eric Litwiller of the Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas looks at mental health in the Wichita area. It is in conjunction with the Wichita Journalism Collaborative.

Commentary: Recovery is not a cookie-cutter prospect

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Thousands of Wichitans live with chronic health issues every year. These include physical illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes. And in the mental health realm, it includes depressive and anxiety disorders, by far the two most common types of mental illnesses that affect our city. But just because these chronic illnesses cannot be cured in the traditional sense does not mean that those who live with them cannot recover and live with the illness in such a way that that their daily lives would look remarkably like the general population. Proper preventive treatment, regular medical check-ins with a practitioner, and adherence to recommended pharmaceutical guidelines as laid out by your doctor allow those living with chronic illness to maintain gainful employment, run errands, live independently, and spend time with family and friends.

Recovery means different things to different people. For some, it may mean not feeling the symptoms of the illness. Others may be happy just to be able to leave their homes to eat at a restaurant or see a movie or get together with friends without feeling the fear and panic that has plagued them in the past.

Whatever recovery might look like for you or for those you love, it is rarely possible without an experienced health professional helping to create a plan. Recovery is not a cookie-cutter prospect. Every person, every illness, every stage of life must be considered to ensure that the plan is tailored to best address your specific needs. But the journey to recovery begins with a single step. And that step is often picking up the phone. I hope you will take that first step today.

Links to mental health resources are at MHANational.org.

Eric Litwiller is the director of development and communications at the Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas.