Let's face it -- getting through the day with a mental illness can sometimes feel like an uphill battle, so having good mental health habits is priority one. My biggest challenge is avoiding stress-induced mental illness symptoms. It helps to go day-by-day, step-by-step, and to remember my priorities. Here are a few everyday habits I have developed to keep my recovery on track.
Recovering from Mental Illness
Remembering my medication at this point in my life and mental health recovery is very important. I accept that I need psychiatric medication to function. That can be a hard thing to admit sometimes. I'm at a place where I have a lot going on in my life and I feel it would fall apart if I didn't take my medication. Long story short -- my medication is extremely important.
Depression in recovery often presents very differently compared to untreated depression, but that doesn't mean that the struggles aren't valid. It means that as symptoms improve and you find healthy coping mechanisms, your depression will start to manifest in different ways.
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.
Healing toxic shame is a process; it takes a lot of time, self-awareness and a willingness to confront the sources of shame in your past, but it is definitely possible. Personally, I have been working on healing toxic shame a lot in therapy lately, because it's impossible for me to truly recover from my issues with anxiety or depression if I believe the toxic shame from my past that tells me I'm not good enough.
I was misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder type II for five years. Last year, I found out the diagnosis was incorrect. Before I realized I'd been misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder, it really did seem like the most accurate diagnosis. However, as time passed and I learned more about myself and about mental health in general, it became clear that bipolar was not the right diagnosis for me. Looking back, I can pinpoint three reasons I was misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder.
I frequently struggle with my hot head, my anger, which feels a little embarrassing to admit. I'm a very anxious person -- something I address in a lot of my articles -- and my anxiety often manifests as anger. I try not to make my anger visible when I'm around others, but it's an all-consuming emotion that's hard to hide. I'm angry about wasting time and energy being so hot-headed, so I am searching for ways to ease my mind.
Mental illness in pregnancy can be tricky to manage for several reasons, but the most frustrating thing for me has been that I can't tell what's causing my symptoms. Last weekend, I slept for 13 hours each night and took a two-hour nap each day. Usually, that would be a classic sign of my depression, and I definitely noticed that my mood was down over the weekend, but pregnancy has also made me absurdly tired. Plus, I'm pretty extroverted and I spent a lot of time alone over the weekend, so I may have just been sleeping out of boredom. How am I supposed to find out what's really going on with me when there are so many overlapping factors?
I am a different person than I was before my mental illness. The year was 2004. I knew I needed help and my parents invited me home. My mental illness was paralyzing, and although I had big dreams, my life was at a standstill.
Self-acceptance in recovery and self-love in recovery are both great goals to strive for, but for people like me, with deep-seated self-loathing issues, self-love oftentimes feels far out of reach. That's why I'm learning to turn to self-acceptance in recovery.