World Mental Health Day 2019 | Lessons I've Learned While Dealing With Mental Illnesses
I'm having a hard time starting this post. I've been sitting in front of my laptop, overthinking what I want to say. For one, I don't want to write a post about my own struggles and make people feel sad. I also don't want to share those cheesy overdone quotes about how mental health matters. Both of those posts wouldn't be helpful to anybody.
I wish I could write the perfect post that would actually be valuable to anybody struggling right now. I'm not taking part in World Mental Health Day because it's trending on social media, but rather because I know what it feels like to struggle with mental illness and I just want to give love and hope to others that might be in the same position I was a couple of years ago.
I am not saying I have it all figured out. I still fight battles every single day and night. But I've been through hell and somehow I've managed to be sitting here. So I consider myself a warrior. There are a lot of lessons and experiences I've had throughout the years and I've been able to find small ways to make my situation better.
Today, I want to be a beacon of hope to anyone out there that is feeling lost, lonely, hopeless, and exhausted. That's why I'm sharing some valuable life lessons I've learned while dealing with my mental illnesses.
1. Most of the feelings of anxiety and depression you feel are not the result of anything you've done or said.
The majority of the time, it is other people's behaviour that influences how we feel. Their toxic and negative energy, their own problems and hurtful actions are what trigger our sadness, stress, panic attacks, hopelessness and overthinking.
Where am I going with this? I want you to know and believe with all your heart that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you for feeling a certain way. You are amazing, kind, good and worthy. Please understand that you can't let others influence how you live your life. You need to be able to value and love yourself without letting your environment influence that.
2. There is no standard of mental illness. We all deal with it in different ways.
We all struggle and suffer differently and that is alright. Don't expect to find a universal diagnosis for your mental health state. The way I see it is your mental health is like a puzzle and all those pieces are areas of your well-being. As you try to put the puzzle together, you'll find it hard to deal with some pieces because they are all different. It's the same with your mental health. Each piece represents a specific aspect of your health that you might be struggling with. One day, you'll find that some pieces are easy to deal with, other days, they're not.
Whatever causes your struggles is not necessarily the same for others. That's why it is so important to practice compassion and understanding with ourselves and those around us.
3. All your symptoms and feelings are valid.
You don't need a checklist of mental illness symptoms to validate your condition. We are all in different journeys and our experiences shouldn't be compared to anyone else's.
You need to learn to listen to your body and trust your intuition. You are the most knowledgeable individual in this planet when it comes to understanding what you're dealing with. Your body and mind know exactly what it means to be healthy and they know when things are not okay.
There are many forms of mental illness and there are tons of different symptoms and ways in which these different diseases can manifest. Your environment, lifestyle, genetics, health, life experiences, and personality, can have an impact in the way you feel, act, and also on how well certain coping mechanisms and treatments might work for you.
4. Your peace of mind should always be at the top of your priorities.
The lesson that has had the most impact in my journey was the moment I finally understood and embraced the fact that my peace of mind is the most important thing in life.
Most of my anxiety attacks are triggered by being in situations where I feel like I have no control. If someone starts making plans about my future or forcing me to do things that are out of my life plan, I spiral. Not knowing what will happen and not being able to be in charge of my life and decisions is my biggest fear.
So I had to learn how to say no to things that give me anxiety. I've turned down jobs, opportunities, meetings, trips, etc. that were not part of my plan. I only do things that make me happy, that add value to my life and that align with my passions and purpose.
People like to think they know your life and what's best for you. They like to butt-in and give their opinions without really knowing you. But you can't let others control your life. Don't let those that are not with you when you're struggling, that don't know what your values, dreams, goals and aspirations are, that haven't once been there for you genuinely caring how you're doing, have so much power over your life.
So why on earth would you live your life pleasing them and not yourself? It doesn't matter if they're your parents or partner or whatever. You need to start living for yourself. No one else is going to be there for you the same way you show up for yourself. So it is time to make yourself the number one priority.
5. The best thing you can do for your mental health is be patient with yourself.
My journey has thought me to take things one day at a time, celebrate those small victories and to not beat myself up when I've had a hard day and feel like I screwed with the progress I was making.
Sometimes I can spend months without crying myself to sleep or having an anxiety attack, and I feel so proud that I finally have it together. And then out of nowhere, I feel like the world is crumbling down, that there is no way out and that I'm worthless and causing others so much suffering and pain.
Trust me, those days are so hard but I've learned how to cope with the feelings of guilt and confusion. I don't stay down and wallow. I try to build myself up again, knowing that it's a life-long process. I have to give myself the love, patience and understanding I deserve.
I hope you found some new insights into dealing with mental health illnesses. I know there are days where things can get complicated and difficult. This is not an easy journey, but remember to be patient with yourself.
Don't let any setback define your future. You are not your struggles and you can overcome this. I want you to feel loved, valued, respected and understood. Know that you are not alone and that there are so many kind people out there wanting to help.
If you want to talk to some organizations that focus on mental health I'll leave some contact information down below.
Resources to Check Out
If you are in crisis, and need immediate support or intervention go the website of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call the lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. It's free and available 24/7.
For members of the LGBTQ+ community who need support, The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention methods. Visit The Trevor Project for more information.
If you're part of the transgender community visit Trans Lifeline, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of trans lives by responding to the critical needs of the community with direct service, material support, advocacy, and education.
If you're a survivor of sexual harassment and assault reach out to the national Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network RAINN. Call 800-656-4673 or use the live chat online, to discuss your experiences, obtain medical and legal information, and receive additional resources and support.
If you're looking for additional information and support on which steps to take if you or someone you know is experiencing mental or emotional distress visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Additional organizations that offer support and resources:
Thank you so much for reading this. I hope each day brings you light, peace and happiness.
Until next time.