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Advice to ETP patients—from those who have been in your shoes

In the words of Early Treatment Program (ETP) patients:

Whether you’re already an ETP patient or taking the first step toward seeking treatment, we know it can be a scary time. But you’re not alone. Here is some advice from current and past ETP patients on navigating life in an Early Treatment Program.

On speaking up:

“The first time I spoke up about my illness, I told them the first medication they prescribed was too strong.  My second medication was the one that worked. Speak up to your doctor and let them know, otherwise they won’t know.”  

“When I first started receiving treatment, I wasn’t getting help for my depressive symptoms.  I spoke up and now am getting help for that.”

On attending events:

“ETP events are helpful. They help you understand yourself. I learned I shouldn’t blame others around me. At one event, I heard a story of someone who recovered and that gave me hope.”

“The talent show is cool to see other people doing things they love. ETP staff treats us like people, like humans—not patients or a number. They make it feel like a community. I’ve been to other places that have made me feel worse about myself.”

On the first therapy visit:

“I was afraid I wouldn’t relate to the topics. In outpatient, though, we talk about going to school and other outside goals.”

“I didn’t know what to expect. It’s OK to be scared or nervous—there’s no way of knowing what it will be like.”

On attending groups:

“I liked meeting people who had the same issues as me—I didn’t feel so alone anymore.”  

“Initially, hearing about my symptoms and diagnosis was hard and scary. After going to more groups though, it got better.  I found other group members relatable and helpful. ETP helps you better understand yourself and your mental illness.”

On wanting to skip appointments:

“We understand what you are going through. We are going through it with you. Make it in to appointments, push through the rough negative feelings you are having. You will feel better.”  

“Coming to the clinic will help you establish a schedule and a routine and give you structure to your day. Listen to your family members and treatment team—they are pushing you forward!”

“I know it was my responsibility to get better, even though I relied on my family members for support. Keep going, even if it feels hard.”

When you should consider ETP:

It can be difficult deciding whether or not you or a loved one should seek treatment. We recommend that you consult a professional if you or your loved one is struggling with the following unusual symptoms:

  • Feeling paranoid or suspicious
  • Difficulty thinking
  • Withdrawing from friends or family
  • Hearing or seeing things that others don’t
  • Difficulty eating or sleeping
  • Mood swings
  • Extreme nervousness, irritability or agitation

Help is available. Learn more about the Early Treatment Program at Northwell Health by calling us at (718) 470-8888.

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