I am often asked how I moved past being in the weeds of mental illness. How did I learn to cope with the unpleasant memories and symptoms? Coping and ultimately being able to strongly manage and mitigate my mental illness largely revolved around how I handled two key questions.
- Do I accept my mental illness reality?
- If I do accept it, what do I do about it?
For anybody who fights mental illness, getting healthier and happier can largely be determined by how these two questions are handled.
Accepting Your Reality
Mental illness is not pleasant. Oftentimes, the experiences many are left to make sense of are traumatic. It would be a plain untruth to state anything else. What, however, can make the difference is whether the affected allows the experiences and symptoms to eat away at them. Do they accept that these experiences – whether traumatic or simply unpleasant and discouraging – happened? Are they at peace with mental illness being their reality?
This is not to say that one shouldn’t be angry about the situation or what has happened. Pretending the anger isn’t there is just that: pretending. However, if one cannot come to peace with their mental illness reality, they risk becoming consumed by anger.
Consuming anger can aid in reinforcing the stigma which society pushes on those with mental illness. I am referring to the stigma which says that having a mental illness is a sickness that, unlike any other sickness, somehow makes one a lesser person. Speaking to those with mental illness: since this stigma is remarkably incompatible with the truth, don’t let it become your truth. Accept the reality that you have an illness, a mental one. Reject society’s stigma.
What You Do About It
If you reach the difficult point of accepting your mental illness, you must then address what to do about that reality. For me, once I accepted my reality, what I did about it is I made it my purpose to be a mental health advocate, to take my rotten situation and see what I can do to better the realities of others. Further, I wanted society to get a little bit more informed about the truths of mental health, and I wanted those with mental illness to feel a little bit less alone.
So, I spoke about my message, wrote about it, and generally moved to help whoever I possibly could. If anybody was willing to listen, I became willing to talk. With each Facebook message, email, or phone call I received, I felt grateful for the opportunity made possible by my experiences.
What you decide to do about your mental illness can only be determined by you. Many, for example, offer their important mental health perspectives by contributing articles, whether under their name or anonymously, to advocacy organizations such as Refuat Hanefesh. Some choose to live their lives as anybody who isn’t managing a sickness would. With each paycheck received, general accomplishment, or family achievement – they are not letting their mental illness or the stigma win. There are countless ways to take the tough experiences and symptoms of your mental illness and do something with them.
It’s Time to Get Healthier
I beg you: don’t let the natural anger dominate your existence. Trust me, it’s been tried; it doesn’t work terribly well.
Yes, acceptance is hard. However, as I began to accept my reality and determined what to do about it, I got so much healthier and happier.
It’s time for you to as well get healthier and happier; it’s time to address the two questions.
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