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Recovering from Mental Illness

September is Suicide Awareness Month, and in honor of that, I want to share my experience with feeling semi-suicidal. My hope is that other people who have occupied this awful in-between space will understand that what they're going through is very real, and someone else has been there too. (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)
As a mental health worker, I am always concerned about how first responders treat mental health concerns and crises. Two such duties are safety checks and dealing with suicide attempts. (Safety checks are when law enforcement checks on someone who has been reported in danger or will possibly harm himself or others.) Here in Toledo, suicide attempts are taken very seriously by emergency services. However, safety checks are of low priority. (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)
Healthy sleep in recovery from mental illness is absolutely vital, but do you know when you're using sleep as a coping mechanism and when you're using it as avoidance? It can be a very fine line, but in this post and video, I talk about some of the good signs and red flags when it comes to healthy sleep in recovery from mental illness.
The stigma of attention-seeking behavior is everywhere. How many times have you heard someone dismissively say something like, "They're just doing it for the attention."? We talk about attention-seeking behavior like it's a low, manipulative trick when in reality, it's just the manifestation of a deeply-human need.
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.
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.