Distraction and avoidance are very closely related, but distraction is a much healthier coping mechanism than avoidance. When I'm feeling something particularly distressing, distraction is a healthy way to help get me through that tense, panicked moment. Avoidance, on the other hand, is a less healthy way to survive distress, and it often creates even more emotional turmoil. What's the difference though, and how can distraction help get you through those intense feelings of distress?
Recovering from Mental Illness
Are you using old coping mechanisms that no longer serve you? Coping mechanisms are habits and behaviors that we use in order to cope with problems we can't necessarily solve. For instance, if you have to take a big test and it gives you tremendous anxiety, you can't just not take the test or simply stop being anxious. Instead, you need to cope with your anxiety to get through the experience. But what happens when the old coping mechanisms we use actually start causing problems instead of solving them?
The Internet both helped and hurt my mental health. I truly believe the internet has done wonderful things for those with mental illness in our day and age. Before the internet, if you had a relatively rare mental illness, you might have felt completely alone or at fault for your situation. Those feelings persist today, but I think the internet has played a huge role in decreasing those feelings.
In addition to recovering from mental illness, it's also important for us to learn how to prevent mental health relapse in times of stress. Lately, my mental health has been doing really well. I've put in a lot of work, and it's finally paying off, but recently, some family stress has put all of my progress to the test. I've noticed a lot of my typical mental illness symptoms struggling to reemerge, to rear their ugly heads and completely derail my life. Luckily, I've managed to keep them to a minimum and prevent a full-on mental health relapse. I thought it would be helpful to share how I'm managing to prevent relapse.
How might you balance social responsibility and mental health recovery? In my mental health recovery, I have had to consider what responsibilities I have to myself vs. social responsibility.
Impulsivity is not the only impulse control issue that can coincide with mental illness. The opposite can also be a problem: excessive self-control. I can remember being overly concerned about controlling my impulses from a very young age, even though I was never a very impulsive child. For some reason, I thought I had really bad self-control and needed to be more in control. To this day, I still struggle to simply act on my impulses without a lot of anxiety; excessive self-control causes problems for me.
We need executive dysfunction coping skills because this type of dysfunction is a common symptom of all kinds of mental illnesses, from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to depression to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Executive dysfunction makes a person struggle to perform tasks that they are otherwise completely capable of performing. Although this is often mistaken for laziness, it is a completely different experience.
New Year's resolutions are tricky for everyone, but they can be particularly troublesome for those of us recovering from mental illness. How do you set goals that will push you but won't push you over the edge? Is it possible to make resolutions that you can still accomplish even if it turns out to be a bad year for your mental health? Do you have enough faith in yourself to even set any goals this year? It's hard to know the answers to these questions, which begs another question: are New Year's resolutions a good idea for people with mental illness? I think they absolutely can be, it just depends on each individual person and their situation.
How do you determine if you're depressed or just sad? Navigating emotions while recovering from mental illness is incredibly tricky. For me, mental illness completely broke my internal emotional compass. Before I experienced depression, I could identify emotions like sadness, worry, and joy fairly easily. But after I experienced depression, it became nearly impossible to distinguish between depression and sadness or nervousness and anxiety. Even though I've been recovering for years, this is still one of my biggest struggles as a human being. Luckily, all those years in therapy have taught me a few things, and I'd like to share them with you.
A new baby impacts your mental health just as many life events can have a significant impact on mental health recovery, a fact which I've been reminded of recently. Just a few weeks ago, I had a beautiful baby boy, and though I've been lucky enough to avoid postpartum depression, I've still had to make several adjustments in order to prioritize my mental health. In this post, I want to share a few of my tips for maintaining good mental health even through all the chaos of bringing home a new baby.