June – Not Letting Mental Illness Define You

June – Not Letting Mental Illness Define You

June Mental Health Discussion

Not Letting Mental Illness Define You

 

Hello all! And welcome to this month’s mental health discussion. This month was a suggestion by quite a few of the readers over this last year. I haven’t written about it until now because honestly, I’ve let it define me and who I am as a person. It’s been the sole focus of my life for a long time but I’ve finally learned how to let it be a part of me without it being the whole of me. Now, let’s get started.

Ahh good ‘ol mental illness. Sometimes it can feel like you’re not even in control of your own thoughts and emotions. It can feel soul crushing, quite frankly. Some days it’s all I can even think about. How do we go about changing this? It controls every second of our lives it seems and I never really knew how to think of myself as more than just somebody who suffers from Bipolar Disorder and anxiety. It just seemed like such a huge part of me that all the others aspects of my personality kind of faded away. Personally, I’m not the best when it comes to not letting mental illness define you. I’ll be the first to admit that. However, I’ve definitely improved over the last 6 months. It’s been a work in progress but if I can do it, so can you! I think the biggest struggle I have in not letting it define who I am is the fact that I am such a huge advocate for mental health and talking about the tough things. It’s such a main goal and focus on mine to destigmatize mental health. Now, when you’re this passionate about something, it can be hard to remember I’m an average person with every day interests. Yes, I suffer from mental illness. Yes, it affects me every day. No, it does not need to be the sole focus of who I am.

One of the first things that really helped me get out of my slump of letting it define who I am was finding other interests¬†outside of my blog. It’s so nice to get lost in something I enjoy and take my mind off of the struggles. Personally, I enjoy painting, drawing, writing, and reading. These are things that are not only therapeutic and good for my mental health, but it lets me remember that I’m good at things! I’m not an artist by any means but I would say I’m pretty okay at the hobbies I have and enjoy. It gives me a sense of purpose and makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something once I’m done. I think it’s so important to have hobbies and interests. It gives you an escape from your own head and I think it’s really beneficial to everyone, not just people suffering.

Now, the biggest things that helps when it comes to this topic honestly, is just being open about your struggles. Tell your friends and family that you struggle. Tell your doctor and health care professionals. Tell the whole world! I know this is so much easier said than done to be this vulnerable, but it’s so important. One of the reasons mental illness has consumed my life so significantly is because the only person that really knew how much I was struggling for a long time was my mom. I didn’t really tell my friends that I was depressed or potentially had bipolar. I didn’t tell them to reason I don’t drive is because of anxiety. I was not ready to tell the world. Looking back on it now, it really hindered me in so many ways. It put distance between me and my friends, it affected my grades and motivation, it even affected my sleep. It’s hard not to let something define you when it’s this big secret.¬†When it’s something that is out there and in the open, it just becomes common knowledge. The “coming out” if you will about mental illness can be very uncomfortable. But I really encourage people to do so. It completely changes your head space and feelings about it.

Now this part is going to be some tough love, so get ready. SUCK. IT. UP. Let me explain. Sometimes you have to have the tough conversation with yourself. While I do not want to belittle mental illness in any way, I think we really need to lighten up the situation sometimes and count your blessings. When I feel really overwhelmed by my disorders, I like to count out the things I have and am thankful for. I have a roof over my head, food to eat, a partner who loves me, amazing friends, a great therapist, my mom, etc. It gives a lot of perspective into how lucky we truly are, despite our stupid chemical imbalances. When we’re struggling, it’s hard not to feel like the victim. It’s so easy to say “poor me, this is so unfair”. I am the first to admit I am so horribly guilty of this, but I’m doing my best to work on it. But honestly, you have to just deal with the cards you’ve been dealt in this life. No amount of self pity is going to change your reality. The best you can do is pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and say a big “fuck you” to your mental illness.

Lastly, one of the things to do if you’re really struggling with this is to seek therapy. Therapists and psychologists have so many amazing tools and knowledge on a wide variety of things, including how to help with issues regarding your identity. I think it can be hard to do without professional help, so don’t be afraid to bring it up in your next session. I think everyone who suffers from mental illness struggles with letting it completely consume them. And it’s hard to fault them for that. Mental illness dictates your whole life. It affects relationships (with yourself and with others), emotions, trains of thought, etc. It literally affects you every second of every day, even if you’re managing it well. It’s always there, lingering, waiting. So please, see if your counseling resource has any tips and tricks for you, or even just talk about it. Sometimes it’s just nice for people to listen. It brings this big weight off your chest and afterwards you feel a little freer.

Thank you so much for reading this month’s mental health discussion. I hope it’s been a helpful read for those of you who were requesting to hear about this topic. The main take away – only you can control how you feel about yourself and your illness. Remember to be kind to yourself.

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