Is your habitual thinking helpful or unhelpful to your mental health recovery? Today, my therapist completely changed my approach to recovery, and even more importantly, she changed how I see myself and my decisions. With one simple question, she encouraged me to be more compassionate toward myself than I have been in years. I was explaining to her how I tend to get stuck in my mind whenever I feel I've failed or messed up because I sit and think about what I've done wrong, why, and why that makes me a terrible person. She asked, "Okay, but how does that help you?"
Recovering from Mental Illness
I've struggled a lot with getting a good night's sleep. Almost every night I laid awake with my racing, anxious thoughts. I was exhausted physically, but couldn't quiet my mind. Once I finally fell asleep it wasn't for long. I would get up several times throughout the night. Some days I couldn't keep my eyes open at work. I would find a way to take a nap if at all possible. My situation felt desperate so I have been on a quest the past several months to discover ways to get a good night's sleep.
It's really okay to be lazy sometimes. Many of us with mental illness have been called lazy at one time or another due to the symptoms of our mental illness. When people don't understand our symptoms, they often try to shame us into simply not being mentally ill anymore by saying we're just being lazy or aren't trying hard enough. "Lazy" then transforms from a simple descriptive word to a powerful tool of shame. "Lazy" becomes the worst thing we could possibly be, and many of us avoid it at any cost. But the truth is, those of us with mental illness can be just as lazy as anybody else.
A few months ago I underwent eye muscle surgery to better align my eyes. This is a problem I have struggled with since birth, so it really gave my confidence a boost to look in the mirror and see straight eyes. The surgery was elective and something I really had to ask for.
Being honest in therapy is much easier said than done. Even though we go to therapy because we want help, there may be certain things we've never discussed with anyone, let alone a complete stranger. Or if you're like me, it's not that you don't want to be honest, it's that you get all turned around in your head the moment you walk into the office and completely forget what you were going to say. For others, you may never have had a person you could truly be honest with, and now you aren't sure how to go about it.
It's nearly impossible to stay calm and focused when you're a frazzled working mom. There's a lot coming at me right now and there's even more I want to do in the future. However, day-to-day life can be so grueling that those future plans seem hard to fathom. Some nights I congratulate myself just for getting through the day. Here are five things I do to keep me moving forward even when I'm ready to throw in the towel.
My husband and I are standing in the kitchen of our new house, picking out paint colors and deciding which projects to tackle first, when suddenly I think "It doesn't matter, I won't be there to enjoy it. I'm going to end up killing myself eventually." I don't mean to think this. I don't want to think this. Luckily, I've had experience with these intrusive suicidal thoughts before, and I'm able to stay calm. I know that I don't want to die, I'm just experiencing a lot of change and my brain is seeking out the comfort of its old neural pathways.
Unfortunately, stigma is real, and it's dangerous. It is visible in public, and it comes full circle affecting patients and professionals alike. Stigma keeps mental illness in the dark and misunderstood, and often prevents sufferers from seeking the help they need.
I noticed some time ago that I've been choosing to stay sick because it's the devil I know. I've been dealing with mental health problems for nearly half a decade, but it's only in the last year that I've finally started making real progress toward recovery. This is because I finally admitted to myself that I was choosing to stay sick because it was what I knew how to do. Recovery was going to involve a lot of truth and change that I wasn't prepared to face, so I just didn't.
Mala beads may not help everyone, and, for me, dealing with my mental illness means medications come first. However, being open to learning additional methods to improve your life and functioning is also important. When you discover new and healthy ways to cope, go with it. Everyone is different, so use what works for you. I recently saw a post on Facebook about mala beads. I was intrigued and bought a necklace. I was excited when they arrived, and even though meditation had been difficult for me in the past, I was definitely willing to give it a try with my new mala beads.