When I had nothing but my mental health struggles, I had writing. I had no answers. I had no knowledge of how to fix or stop my pain. I only had emotions simultaneously carving out and bursting from my aching chest, so I tried to put them into words. In doing so, without knowing it, I was writing my way to recovery.
Recently, my therapist pointed out that even though I'm pretty good about basic self-care, like getting enough sleep and drinking water, I've been neglecting my emotional self-care. As soon as she said something, I knew she was right. I'd been avoiding my emotions by refusing to engage in anything that might make me emotional, like journaling, sad movies, or even listening to music. So I decided it was time to revamp my emotional self-care with these three basic changes.
No matter how much coffee I drink, I am exhausted all the time, and it's because of my mental illness. Recovery is hard, but sometimes it's not even about recovery, it's just about getting through the day, and that's where I'm at right now. I have to fight to do anything; even getting dressed in the morning is a battle. As I sit typing this, my hands feel heavy, and with every breath, I want to quit and go back to bed.
I know it might sound odd, but sometimes I miss being sick. I've gotten so much better over the past few months, and there is a small part of me that misses being sick, and I'm willing to bet I'm not the only one who's ever felt this way. So, let's talk about it.
I learned the hard way that mental health recovery burnout is a real thing. It turns out, recovery isn't something you can work tirelessly toward and eventually achieve, like an award. Instead, it's more like something you slowly chip away at until one day you realize the work is a lot easier than it used to be. But recovery is never really over or complete, at least not in my case, which means working frantically to recover will only lead to one thing: burnout.
Self-help books have been immensely helpful in my journey to recover from mental illness and generally improve my self-worth, but despite their usefulness, I'm often ashamed to admit how many self-help books I read. In my family, I'm known as the "self-help junkie" and teased as if that is a bad thing.
Impulsivity is a symptom of many mental illnesses, from borderline personality disorder (BPD) to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and more. Unlike other symptoms, such as anxiety or apathy, impulsivity is still highly stigmatized and is often portrayed as being immature or careless rather than being a symptom of mental illness. Although impulsivity can definitely cause issues in your life, I would also argue that there are some hidden benefits of impulsivity.
Reading has always been a great source of comfort for me, and throughout my healing journey, I've read many books about mental illness and recovery. Some were boring, others just didn't feel aligned with me and my struggle, but some were absolutely amazing. Today I want to highlight those amazing books in the hopes that they can also help guide you through your recovery.
Making time for self-care is necessary, although it has never been at the top of my list of priorities. I'm a wife and mom, I run my own small business, and I'm often so consumed by things like potty training or launching a new product that taking time for self-care sounds ridiculous. Why would I take the time to do my skincare routine at night when I could get an extra three minutes of sleep? Why would I exercise for half an hour when I could be using that time to catch up on emails? For a long time, self-care has lived at the bottom of my to-do list, constantly shuffled around and ignored.
I love validation. I need it so much all the time, and sometimes I lose sight of the bigger picture. I stop seeing it as part of my healing and recovery, and I start seeing it as the end goal—the destination. Really, validation is a journey; it's something that's always ongoing, and I will never reach a point where I feel fully, 100 percent, in a way that will never fade or waver. Plus, even though validation is an essential aspect of healing, it is not the same thing as healing.