Living with a mental illness can be an absolute shit show. I’ve had some serious ups and downs over the years, but I’m going to tell you a few things I’ve learned. Cherish what matters and forget everything else.
What Matters: Having a Voice
From speaking up at appointments to sharing your story with the world, it’s important to make your voice heard.
When it comes to dealing with my treatment team, there have been so many times I wished I would have asked for help sooner. I’d put it off. I’d think maybe it’s not that bad yet. I wouldn’t reach out until it was absolutely unbearable. Once I finally asked for help and started feeling better (such as a med adjustment), I’d kick myself for suffering longer than I needed to. That’s happened more times than I care to admit.
Also, sharing my story is therapeutic. It keeps me grounded, validates my experiences, and sometimes I even have the chance to help someone else. My story and mental health journey are important parts of me. My illness doesn’t define me but it often explains the challenges – and sometimes triumphs – in my life.
What Doesn’t: Other’s Expectations
Trying to live up to others’ expectations has given me a lot of heartache. My mental illness started early in childhood and I always felt misunderstood. My life swings pretty wildly between painfully normal and completely unique. Despite the doubts and anxiety, I have learned to follow my own path. Maybe people think I’m weird but I’ve learned that when you find someone who gets it you hang on to them. If only I could have told myself all this when I was younger…
What Matters: Purpose
Purpose is not just having a reason to get up in the morning but also having something to look forward to.
I look forward to writing. Even when I’m not well – sometimes especially when I’m not well – I always have something to write about. Sometimes it’s healing and other times it stirs the pot. Either way, I have something to say and look forward to putting it down on paper.
What Doesn’t: God
Maybe some people find peace in a little faith in recovery but having worked in mental health for the past fifteen years I’ve seen firsthand the damage religion can do to someone with a mental illness. It’s pouring gasoline on an already raging fire.
That’s my list. Now it’s your turn! Let me know what matters and what doesn’t.