The path to recovery and wellness from a serious mental illness is sometimes long and difficult but with the right care it is possible.

Margaret Trudeau has worked to overcome the obstacles that can be posed by a mental illness. She didn’t begin to get better until she learned to accept her diagnosis. She shares that people need to “accept that life isn’t going right, that they’re not thinking correctly, they’re not having the outcomes they want, that there are challenges concentrating at work, and they are becoming easily frustrated, feeling overwhelmed and stressed.”

She says that people need to first find the courage to accept that they have a mental illness and then get the help that they need.

Trudeau relates the steps of healing from her mental illness to the five stages of the Kubler-Ross model. First introduced by Swiss psychiatrist Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, the model identifies five stages of grief in a series of emotions experienced after the loss of a loved one. The emotions are denial, bargaining, anger, depression and acceptance. Trudeau uses the same model to explain the loss of mental health and wellness.

The first stage people might experience is denial: “I don’t have a mental illness, there’s nothing wrong with me!” Bargaining follows denial. In this stage, you might tell yourself, “If I just do more yoga and eat more kale, I’ll be ok!” says Trudeau. Once you realize that you are not getting well, anger is often the next stage. People commonly ask, “Why me?” The model suggests that the stage that follows anger is depression. This occurs when you don’t know what to do about your illness and the various feelings and symptoms you may be experiencing because of it. The last stage in the model is acceptance. At this point, you accept your illness as a fact and are willing to work with it to get better.

“Mental illness is a serious problem and one that we need to face,” concludes Trudeau. “We can’t have fear about it because the fear will stop us from getting help.”

For more information about recovery check out Approaches to Wellness.