Living with a mental illness for the past fifteen or so years has been a harrowing experience. I’ve had some up’s, but many down’s. Thankfully, however, God has enabled me to learn from my experiences and to develop a few tactics in order to live a more enriched and satisfying life. I would like to share these with you, with the hope that you can use these “nuggets of wisdom” in your own life.
- Recovery is a process — it doesn’t happen overnight. I cannot count the number of times I have thought to myself or even said aloud, “I want to be better, NOW!” Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.There are many aspects to a person’s recovery, and each need to be addressed over a period of time. Yes, I hate not knowing when I’m going to be “better”, but I have learned that each day is a new opportunity to learn and to grow and to improve.
- It’s important to take responsibility for your own recovery. It’s one thing to want to get better because your spouse or your children or any other person/people desire(s) it, but it’s much more effective when you have the desire within yourself to overcome your areas of difficulty and to become the best person that you can be. This gives you motivation that you wouldn’t always have if you were attempting to heal for the sake of someone else.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s humbling and embarrassing at first to realize that you need outside help in order to work towards healing, but the sooner you admit this truth to yourself, the closer you will be to getting connected with the resources that can help you in your recovery.
- Widen your support group. This was (and still is) a difficult endeavor for me. I rely greatly on a very few number of people with whom I am close, and have always had a hard time knowing how to reach out and get the extra support that I need. This support could be from a pastor, a church group, a counselor, a friend, a family member, a recovery program, or a group that meets to specifically discuss mental health issues. The goal is to have people around you on whom you can rely, as opposed to only having one person to reach out to. This is not healthy for yourself, or for the other person.
- Don’t be ashamed of your mental illness. Unfortunately, there is still a large stigma related to mental illness. Many people just don’t understand, because they haven’t had this type of experience themselves. But having a battle with mental illness does not make you any less of a person, or any less “normal” than anyone else. Even though I have never felt “normal,” I am learning that everyone has areas in which they struggle; and although they may be different areas, we all share the common need to grow and improve and to overcome the obstacles in our lives.
- Learn as much as you can about your mental illness. As is often said, knowledge is power. Do whatever it takes to grow in your understanding of your illness. Whether it be researching the nature and possible cause(s) of the illness, searching for available treatment options, or exploring different coping skills that you may be able to use to improve your quality of life, it is extremely important to educate yourself in all aspects of your illness.
I will continue with the last six “nuggets of wisdom” soon. Thank you for reading, and I sincerely hope that what I have learned from my own struggles can be even a small tool to help you (or someone you know) in your (or their) journey.
Here is a link to 12 Nuggets of Wisdom from My Experience with Mental Illness: Part 2!