Mental Illness is a struggle that affects many people and can take many different forms.
Mental Illness can be lonely and debilitating, forcing us to withdraw socially and try to hide our condition from the world. One of the hardest things for those who are suffering from Mental Health Issues to do, is to accept their condition in the first place.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with being introverted, or enjoying time to ourselves, but it becomes a bigger issue when that becomes the norm. Balancing those qualities and still having (and maintaining) meaningful connections with those around us can sometimes be hard – especially when we choose not to accept our reality.
Many of us choose to suffer in the dark, rather than admit to anyone they are struggling, or are ‘different’ or ‘sick’. This shouldn’t have to happen.
There is far more beauty, strength and power in accepting and embracing our flaws.
‘The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.’Mark Twain
Here are a few ways to learn how to embrace our struggles and turn them into something we can use in order to grow in our journey:
Get Diagnosed & Refer To Your Condition By Name.
Being diagnosed can often bring about shame or confusion in many people, as well as feelings of guilt or anger. ‘Why me?’ is something that people ask over and over again.
But as scary as being diagnosed is, it can be incredibly useful as well.
You can’t defeat something if you don’t know what it is you’re fighting. But knowing what you’re dealing with is the first step to finding a solution – a way to fight back.
If you’ve been diagnosed with Depression – call it by its name. Bi-Polar? Name it. Anxiety? Own it. If you name something, you own it. If you own it, you choose how much power it has over you.
If you choose to name your condition, you also help others put a name and face to the condition – making it far easier to relate to and empathize with – thus reducing the stigma attached to it.
If you want to educate others, you start by educating yourself. If you want to be empowered and influential, the best thing you can do is learn as much as you can about the topic you want people to understand.
Having stories, facts and figures at our fingertips can prove incredibly important when we are trying to get our point across to someone. And learning just how many other people out there are in similar circumstances to us can propel us forward and give us hope and confidence.
Sidney Hook put it like this:
‘Everyone who remembers his own education remembers teachers, not methods and techniques. The teacher is the heart of the educational system.’
If we can learn about ourselves, and truly know ourselves, it can create an energy within and a fire that can’t be extinguished. Being able to feel good about ourselves starts from within.
Respect Your Mental Illness.
If you want to own your diagnosis, you need to learn how it works.
If you want to tame a beast, you need to know how to make it feel respected.
Some forces demand a certain amount of respect – they are powerful and damaging, but beautiful too – like fire.
The same thing goes for our Mental Health. If we want to own our diagnoses, we need to respect that there are going to be days that are better than others. And that’s okay.
Never minimize your condition. It simply is what it is, and that sometimes means adjusting ourselves accordingly.
For some, that means taking extra self-care steps. For others, it’s removing ourselves from a toxic situation.
Paying attention to ourselves and our conditions is critical when it comes to empowerment and feeling ‘in-control’.
Implement Self-Care Measures That Work For You.
Self-Care is meaningless if you aren’t focusing on yourself. Self-Care looks different for everyone – and that’s totally fine. What works for one, may not work for another.
The challenge is finding what does work best for us as individuals. There’s no point joining your friend for Yoga if you absolutely can’t stand getting sweaty and bending yourself into a knot. It may work for your friend, but not you.
For some of us, Self-Care is as simple as taking some time out for an afternoon nap. For others, it’s hitting the gym, or a nice hot bath.
Spend some time thinking about the last time you truly felt relaxed, and work from there. If you know how to manage the bad days, you will find yourself feeling much better and more in-control over our situation and condition.
Embracing who you are is vital on all of our journeys – not just people with Mental Illnesses. Being able to accept who you are, flaws and all, is hard sometimes (even for the best of us). So don’t give up, and remember you are never alone.
If you’re feeling like you need to talk to someone, there are plenty of places you can reach out:
Headspace: 1800 650 890
Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800
MensLine Australia: 1300 789 978
QLife: 1800 184 527