Positive Steps For Mental Health
After my diagnosis, I had to do a lot of research in regards to the disorders I was suffering from, before I was able to accept who I truly was. I began to research depression, mania, and anxiety. The more I read about each illness, the more I realized that yes, I have these disorders BUT, I was not alone AND it was not the end of my world. To me, it felt more like the beginning of a new life. One that I understood and was able to control (to a certain extent). I never knew what was wrong with me before. Why I did or said the things I did. Now, I know what to expect before, during, and after an episode. I know what activities make me feel good and which ones don’t. I also know what foods I should eat and which one’s I shouldn’t. I even know which people I could keep in my life and which ones I have to get rid of (not an easy thing to do by the way). I feel I know myself quite well, inside and out. Although, it took some time to accept ALL of who I was, eventually I did and I can honestly say that I love myself now.
2. TALKING ABOUT IT
Talking about each of my disorders was difficult for me, in the beginning. I was embarrassed to admit my issues with others because I feared people would reject me or think less of me because of them. During my research I found several groups of people with similar disorders as my own and talking to them helped me to realize that, what I was going through, was nothing to be ashamed of. Hearing and reading about others experiences made it easier for me to cope with my own. Now, I talk and write freely about EVERYTHING I go through. I do it, mostly, to spread mental health awareness as well as to let others out there, who feel the way I used to, know that they are not alone and that they have nothing to be ashamed of.
3. KEEPING ACTIVE
I have found that, although extremely difficult at times, exercise plays a major part in my road to mental wellness. I used to go to the gym 4 days a week and felt amazing physically and mentally after a good workout. I haven’t stepped into a gym in a while but I have noticed that even doing yard work, cleaning house, doing laundry, and any other activity that requires physical movement does wonders for my body and my mind.
4. LEARNING NEW SKILLS
Learning something new everyday helps exercise the brain and, in my experience, makes you feel better about yourself. I homeschool my children so learning new things is a must for me. I love finding new things to teach my children and watching them as they listen to me in class makes me feel like the smartest person in the world sometimes. That is a major plus when it comes to boosting my self esteem as well as my drive to want to do more.
5. KEEPING IN TOUCH WITH FRIENDS
Keeping in touch with friends is kind of tricky because, a lot of times, we don’t know who our friends are. Once we are able to figure that out, staying in touch is an important part in both the recovery process and the ongoing wellness process. It is important to have loved ones around. People who truly care about our well being. Positive, people who will motivate us to become better and healthier members of society. I have made it a point to stay away from as many negative people as possible. Negative people bring us down and, I don’t know about you but… I have enough issues trying to stay up on my own! In order for me to become a mentally healthy individual, I felt I had no choice but to get rid of anyone who was draining me of the little bit of energy I sometimes have.
6. DOING SOMETHING CREATIVE
“Thinking outside the box might be facilitated by having a somewhat less intact box,” said Fredrik Ullén, of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. This may sound comical but I believe it to be true. My mind is constantly coming up with ideas as well as new ways of doing things and, trust me, my “box” is not intact. I love working on crafts, decorating, designing, and finding ways to make use of things that most would have no use for. Although mental illnesses have had devastating effects on the lives of those affected by them, it has been seen that these same illnesses have produced creativity, clarity, and insight as well. In fact, a lot of the world’s most famous, creative, and influential people have had a mental illness. I’m not going to list them here but, if I did and from what I’ve read, the list would include writers, entertainers, political leaders, scientists, entrepreneurs, and many more.
7. GETTING INVOLVED
As I mentioned before, I joined groups of people who have similar disorders as I do and by becoming involved in those groups I was able to not only learn more about my illnesses but I was able to help others suffering as well. Getting involved simply means, in my opinion, learning as much as we can about what we are going through so that we can turn around and teach others who are going through similar issues and who are scared, confused, and have lost hope.
8. ASKING FOR HELP
I must admit, when I first received my diagnosis, I had no idea what it meant or that there was help out there but, I quickly found out that there was. Again, I was embarrassed to do so in the beginning but I realized that I wanted to get better and I wasn’t going to unless someone guided me in the right direction. If you feel you need help, ask your doctor, therapist, counselor, me (I may not have the answers but I can definitely try to find someone who does). I know that if I would have never asked for help, I would not be who and where I am today.
Relaxing is my favorite part of the staying healthy process! Seriously, relaxing and trying to stay stress free is difficult to do but we must find a way to make it happen. I make it a point to take a nap everyday. I stop everything I’m doing, and I take one. Everyone in my family knows I HAVE to take naps in order for me to function well and they are all very cooperative (even my kids). You don’t necessarily have to take a nap though. You can relax by reading a book, sitting on the porch drinking coffee or tea, watching a movie. Anything that is stress and thought free is relaxing, in my book.
Mental Illness is not confined to any particular ethnic, racial, religious, or financial group. Anyone can get it at any time and surviving it is the goal. I can’t stress enough, the importance of educating yourself on your disorders. Like I mentioned earlier, a diagnosis in not the end of the world but you have to learn what you, as an individual, can do to help yourself get through it.
I hope these steps were of some help to you and please, if you have questions, need guidance, or just want to chat, contact me.