Countless times, people have told me that a person can only start to heal if they are ready to do the work themselves. They can't be forced into improving their lives. Despite hearing this message over and over, part of me really thought I could convince other people to heal and "get better" if I just said and did the right thing. This probably comes from a history of being responsible for co-regulating my parents' emotions. I grew up having to say and do the right thing to maintain my worth, and for a long time that felt normal.
Mental Health Advocate
Let's face it: there are a lot of aspects of mental illness that can be traumatic, and mental health misdiagnosis can also be traumatic. What happens when we don't even have the mental illness we think we have? I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder six years ago, found out that diagnosis was incorrect two years ago, and now a huge part of my recovery is dealing with the fallout and trauma of that misdiagnosis.
If you've never heard of the term "time-blindness," you aren't alone. I've been researching and writing about mental health for nearly 10 years, and I only heard the term last year, even though it is a major problem for a lot of people, especially those with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Typically on this blog, I talk about how I am recovering from depression and anxiety, but I have strongly identified with the symptoms of ADHD for a few years now, ever since I started reading resources on what ADHD looks like in girls and adults. Once this pandemic is over, I plan on being professionally evaluated to see if I actually have ADHD or if my ADHD symptoms are connected to something else. Regardless of a diagnosis, I definitely experience time-blindness, and it makes life in general difficult, but it can also create big problems for my mental health.
Sometimes childhood trauma is big and obvious, but other times, it's more subtle and insidious. In my case, it took until I was well into my 20s to acknowledge that in many ways, my childhood was traumatic. For a long time, part of me knew that was the case, but I couldn't allow myself to believe it because it would mean everything in my life would change.
Is it possible to be grateful for mental illness? Some days, I hate having mental health issues and would do almost anything to make them go away forever. But other days, on my better recovery days, I'm almost grateful for my mental illness. It feels weird to be grateful for something that makes me so miserable so often, but at the same time, I think it's the natural result of living with a chronic condition. After all, the reality is that I can't make my mental illness go away, so I might as well find some silver linings.
People might think I have my life together, and for the most part, I do. But even after years of recovery, I still struggle. My struggles and how I react to them are different now from when I was first diagnosed, but some days it is painfully clear that recovery is a lifelong battle.
I fake normalcy because having a mental illness is isolating and makes me feel different. Facing the outside world can be difficult. Here are five coping methods (positive and negative) I noticed I do when I leave the house that help me fake normalcy.
Using creative projects for mental illness recovery helps me immensely. The arts have played an integral part in my recovery from schizoaffective disorder. It all started with a five-week stay at a treatment center where I received my initial diagnosis. There was a lot of downtime at the center and I was frequently digging through their stash of art supplies. I had frightening visual hallucinations and found it very therapeutic to draw them.
Mental illnesses are devastating. Even when the dust settles after your initial diagnosis, it's hard to see how there can be anything positive about mental illness. However, recovery is full of surprises.
Unfortunately, stigma is real, and it's dangerous. It is visible in public, and it comes full circle affecting patients and professionals alike. Stigma keeps mental illness in the dark and misunderstood, and often prevents sufferers from seeking the help they need.