My Mental Illness Is Still Teaching Me

Hello loves, ❤

Mental illness is one of those things where you cannot ‘unsee’ it, once you recognize it for what it is. Once you start to pick up on the tendencies you have that were always used as a form of protection, the coping mechanisms you developed however long ago to make life feel easier, and the way in which you have chosen to compartmentalize your world…you will be able to see that these have also become the ways you have been able to survive your mental illness; sometimes without even realizing that is what you were doing the whole time.

Unfortunately, we do not have much of a say in what was passed down unto us from generations prior (whether that be genetically, or through learned behavior). Fortunately, we do have a say in how much work we do on ourselves as a way to stop bad patterns from repeating, and healing our own mental illnesses as a result.

Through my recovery from addiction, and now with the use of professional help, I have been able to recognize the areas in my life that still need attention, understanding, and acceptance on my part. What I am learning about myself through this process is not always easy information to sit with, and despite the truth that may be hard to accept, it is still my job to find healthy ways to manage what I do with the information. Each day I am given offers me the opportunity to learn something about myself; the 10 lessons below just happen to be the ones my mental illness is still having to teach me.

1. The ‘Work’ is Never Over.

Just when I think that I have gotten the hang of this whole mental illness thing, I am quickly reminded that I have no say in what will cause a reaction in me, BUT I do have a say in how I choose to react to it. This requires workA lot of it. Becoming self-aware of what it is that can cause you to feel overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed, is a skill that takes time, and patience. To know what we need to work on, we must first be willing to own up to it. The work may never end, but the task of doing it will get much easier over time.

2. Say it with me: “I am so much more than a label!”

It would be so easy for me to lose myself in the labels I didn’t ask for, as well as the labels I acquired from putting on myself through past mistakes, and poor choices. It is important that I remind myself that my mental illness does not define me as a person. It just happens to be a part of me and a piece that makes me who I am as a whole. We are not the labels that society has deemed as ‘broken’, or ‘damaged’ just because some of our parts don’t function as well as others. We are all so much more than any label that can be thrown at us.

3. Help is out there if I am brave enough to ask for it.

Asking for help is an extremely hard thing for me to do since I am always doing what I can to be the least amount of a burden that I possibly can. Recognizing that you need help is not a sign of weakness, and this is a lesson I must remind myself of more times than I care to admit. Swallowing my pride, and facing my fear of rejection/abandonment are the two things I must do when asking for help. It can still be a very challenging thing for me to do, but I am always so amazed at how willing others are to help me if I need it. It has only just been the voice in my head keeping me from asking for some.

4. Recovery never promised me a smooth ride.

I think a large part of me believed that with the choice to walk away from my anxiety, I would be healed, and that would be final. How wrong I was. Just because I made the choice to remove what was killing me, did not remove me from the task of figuring out the best ways for me to live. Recovery has given me so much of my life back, but with the choice to recover comes the choice to accept what I was never willing to face before. Recovery is anything but a smooth ride, but it is a ride worth traveling.

5. Mental Illness is just one form of struggle.

My struggle is not to be compared to someone else’s, and vice versa. Mental illness may cause me a lot of obstacles to overcome, but it is also just ONE form of struggle. You do not have to be in a battle with your mental health to know that life can throw you a curve ball or two. This is something I am still having to learn when it comes to understanding others. We all have our own set of storms to survive, and it’s important to realize that we are not the only ones who struggle.

6. I cannot run from what must be felt.

This one is still hard for me to grasp. In fact, this one will always cause me a sense of uneasiness. My old default reaction to anything that caused me to put my defenses up meant that I needed to run from it, avoid it, or deny it. This is what led to my compulsive drug use as a means to escape whatever I was feeling at the time. Now that I no longer use that approach, learning to sit with certain emotions is not an easy feat for me to do, but I am much more willing to hear what they are trying to tell me. We cannot run from what presents a challenge; we must be able to step up and face whatever we need to feel.

7. Mental illness can also be beautiful.

We don’t give mental illness enough credit when it comes to the positives that it can offer us all. For example, my anxiety can work out in my favor when it comes to what can feel like an insurmountable fear such as showing up late for an appointment. My anxiety does not allow me to be late for anything. Within the everyday little moments that some may overlook, my mental illness can make me hyper-aware which allows me to always feel in control of my surroundings. Even though my brain tends to cause me unnecessary worry, I am also always prepared in a way that seems to set me apart in other parts of my life. With the cons, will also come the pros. We must be able to find the beauty within our situation and/or struggle.

8. I must let go of what I cannot change.

I know I am not alone in my fear of letting go of things whether that be people, objects, or memories. I keep certain things close to me as a way to feel safe by what I know best, but when the things I am holding onto our just things that are holding me back, I have to get honest about what I need to let go of for good. By ridding myself of the people who are toxic, objects that no longer hold importance, and memories that tie me to a place of pain, I am able to move forward with more clarity, and a clean slate for what has yet to come. To let go means to set yourself free. I am still learning this.

9. I am more than capable of surviving this.

We can get caught up in the moment of an emotion that will pass by, but in that time, we can convince ourselves that this feeling will last forever; that we may never be able to pull ourselves out of this one. Want to know one of the most important things I have realized through some of my worst times? I always make it out on the other side, no matter what I may have been convinced of while suffering through it. We are all more than capable of surviving our darkest moments, no matter what we may tell ourselves at our lowest.

10. I AM NOT ALONE! I NEVER HAVE BEEN!

Why is it so easy to convince ourselves that we must be the only ones who experience struggle? When in fact, this is just a passage of life. We must all go through the ups and downs of this world, but to think that we are ever alone in the process…well, that is never the case. There is always someone who will listen to your pain, and sit with you in the silence. We only believe that we are alone because we think others will be able to see through to us and pull us out of it. Our cries for help will never be louder than our willingness to just ask for it out loud. We have never been alone; we have just allowed our mental illness to convince us that we are. Speak up. You can overcome this struggle.

I felt compelled to write this for many reasons. For one, I feel that it is important to speak up for anyone who is silently battling with mental illness, and for who has not been able to find the proper help they need when dealing with this. Secondly, I find it necessary to emphasize that we are ALL struggling with something. This one is easy for us to forget because we are so often consumed by the world we have created for ourselves. Last but not least, for me to continue doing the work I have found to be necessary for my healing process, it is critical that I am as authentic as I can be, and willing to share my weaknesses just as much as I am willing to share my strengths. There is not one without the other, and there is no me without my mental illness. I am learning to love these parts of myself, for they will always be a key role in my life. It is better for me to work in harmony with my mental health by accepting what I cannot change and choosing to get better with each day I am given.

Wherever you are in the world, have a lovely day ❤

DYH Signature

*Guest Appearance* What to Do If Your Loved One Needs Addiction Treatment

Hello loves, ❤

I pray everyone is doing well 🙂 We have a beautiful guest with us today, Bethany from Prevent Addiction. Bethany has a lovely page that showcases a lot of blog posts we can all benefit from, be sure to check out her page.

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How do you know if someone close to you is using drugs heavily or actually has an addiction? And, what do you do when you realize that someone close to you is struggling with a substance abuse problem and needs professional treatment? We’ve listed out some tips on what to do if you find yourself in this situation.

Look out for the signs

Are you worried your loved one is addicted to drugs or alcohol? There are certain signs to look out for that will tell you if they need professional treatment. Is the drug interfering with their social activities? Are they unable to manage simple work tasks without being high? Have they tried quitting the drug but they’re unable to? Do they spend most of their time buying, using or recovering from the drug? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, your loved one is most likely suffering from a substance abuse issue and requires addiction treatment.

Know that you can’t force them to seek help

You can’t force someone to seek treatment for addiction if they don’t want it. They may think that they don’t have a problem. If your loved one doesn’t voluntarily check themself into a rehabilitation center, you can’t drag them there. If you’re concerned about your loved one and their substance abuse problem, you can call an interventionist to visit them. An interventionist is especially important if your loved one has anger issues, is struggling to connect with family members, has a mental illness, or is at risk for suicide.

Find a suitable facility

Is someone close to you struggling with addiction and needing your help? Find them a couple of suitable rehab facilities to choose from. Do this by first figuring out their budget, and if they have any specific needs (including disabilities and diet considerations). Are there any programs that would fit their personality (would they be happier at a wellness retreat out of state or a more traditional rehabilitation center a mile from their house)? Answering these questions will help you narrow down rehabilitation centers for them to get the help they need in a comfortable environment.

Participate in their recovery

If your family member or close friend checks themselves into treatment at an addiction center, it’s important to participate in any family programs that are offered. These programs can help you support your loved one and help you take care of yourself at the same time. Your loved one is going to need to lean on you throughout their recovery, and even after their program is over. Recovery doesn’t stop once they leave the treatment center. Urges can happen at anytime, and you have to help them through any roadblocks they may come across.

Remember to care for yourself

While it is crucial to focus on your loved one who’s struggling with addiction, it’s also critical to focus on yourself during this time, especially once they enter recovery. As someone close to them, you’re there to support them, but that can take a toll on your own mental and physical health. Drug and alcohol addiction can not only cause pain on the person who’s addicted, but also the people close to them. If you need to see a therapist, do it. Being able to talk to someone about what you’re going through will help you be a better supporter for your loved one.

When someone close to you is in need of addiction treatment, it’s important to be supportive and get them the help they need. Remember to take care of yourself while you’re looking out for your loved one. Addiction treatment takes an emotional and mental toll on everyone in the family, so it’s important to stay positive throughout the process.

Photo: Unsplash

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Thank you once again to Bethany who has taken the time to share her knowledge & advice behind when a loved on needs addiction treatment.

Wherever you are in the world, have a lovely day ❤

DYH Signature

*Guest Appearance* Seeking Serenity?

Hello loves ❤

I hope you are all well – We have a lovely guest here today with us, Michelle from Recovery Pride who has provided a lovely peace on Seeking Serenity.

Seeking Serenity? Here’s How to Stay Positive and Guilt-Free While in Addiction Recovery

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Photo courtesy of StockSnap

Addiction recovery is tough. The journey to sobriety triggers difficult thoughts and emotions. There are feelings of shame and guilt over past behaviors. There are feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. You might struggle to forgive yourself and others. You might even wonder whether God (or your Higher Power) has outcasted you.

 

Luckily, addiction doesn’t have to be the end of the road for you. There are many ways to maintain a positive mindset. That way, you can move beyond those dark feelings and regain your happiness and your life. Here are some tips and techniques for keeping a positive mindset and reducing feelings of guilt and shame if you’re in addiction recovery:

 

Read Spiritual and Self-Help Books. Your faith can actually benefit your mental and emotional health while also helping you recover from addiction. According to one study, “The more religious a person was, the fewer depressive symptoms they experienced.” Research shows attending church, practicing a religion, and/or having faith in God or a Higher Power can calm the mind by reducing stress and anxiety. By regularly reading faith-based, life-affirming books, you can maintain a healthy, positive mindset, which is crucial to healing and recovery.

Create Your Own Daily Ritual. Rituals, such as a daily yoga practice, prayer, religious singing, and even meditation can all create positive physiological changes. These practices can lower blood pressure and heart rate, boost the immune system, and reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. It’s no wonder that spirituality helps those in recovery learn to better navigate triggers, reduce cravings, and stay on a healthy, sober path!

Let Go and Let God. As they say in AA meetings, recovery involves surrendering your need to control your life, your circumstances, and those around you. Surrender might start with a daily prayer or meditation. It could begin at church. It involves letting go and knowing God will handle it for you.

If you’re clinging to guilt, shame, or negativity, you might write a letter to God, combining two profoundly healing practices: writing and religion. In your letter, specifically state what you would like to be forgiven or what you would like to be relieved of. Speak from your heart and remember: this is an honest, private conversation between yourself and God.

Talk to a Trained Professional. Getting to the root of your addiction will be a confusing and emotional experience, but understanding your substance abuse completely is an important step in conquering it. One way to do this is by talking to a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) or professional therapist who specializes in addiction recovery. Depending upon your level of addiction, another option might be to stay longer-term at an addiction rehabilitation facility. Additionally, marriage and/or family counseling can help facilitate healthy conversations with your loved ones and pave the way for stronger relationships.

The techniques listed above are powerful, even if you’re not in addiction recovery. Of course, for those who are currently recovering from addiction or alcoholism, this advice will really hit home. As you journey out of the woods of addiction and into the light of recovery, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. It can literally mean the difference between life and death when it comes to addiction recovery. Above all else, be patient with yourself; you are building a healthier, happier way of living.

 


 

Thank you again to Michelle for providing such a beautiful peace ❤

Wherever you are in the world, have a lovely day ❤

A, x (1)