Over the past couple months, I’ve had such great support with my blog and a lot of questions regarding my health, how I deal with certain things, and why I am where I am. The purpose of this blog has never been to vent to the world about my illnesses or attract some sort of attention. . It is about sharing the methods I use (mostly with food) to hopefully inspire or assist others that are maybe going through the same things as I, or that are just simply looking for new recipes and nutritional information. I’m still at the beginning of my journey with my physical illness, but have spent my whole life dealing with the mental illness I carry and have learned so much in the past 4-ish years since my diagnosis.
I’ve been there. I’ve been the crazy and I’ve been the depressed. I’ve done the wanting to die thing, the sleeping for days thing, the throwing up because I’m so anxious thing, the crazy crying/don’t care anymore panic attack thing. And I’m not sure at what point, but at some point, I gave life the middle finger and told it to go screw itself. I decided no matter how hard it was, I was going to figure out what the hell was wrong and I was going to fix it. And it’s been a journey, but here I am now, living a stable and absolutely fabulous life.
I am in no way suggesting that I am a superstar that has it all figured out. I definitely have my bad days. But these are the things I have learned over the past few years that have really helped me out.
1. Working hard pays off
I wrote this as the first point because it is the most important. Like anything in life, you must take big chances to get big results. Anyone who has ever felt depressed knows it’s hard as eff to even get off the couch sometimes. But you must push yourself. Push yourself to do things you wouldn’t normally do – one day at a time. Keep those plans you have with friends, fill your schedule up and keep busy, go to that social event that scares you, and above all, SHOVE those negative thoughts out of your head and replace them with positive ones. Most people think self talk is a bunch of bullshit, but I challenge them to do it for a week.
If you are feeling off or need something, don’t be afraid to deal with it. You know your body and mind better than anyone so don’t let anyone tell you differently. Go to your doctor if you feel you need a psychiatrist. Go to your psychiatrist if you feel your meds aren’t working. Trust yourself and your gut feelings.
2. Things are going to be okay and it’s not your fault
Seriously though, they are. Even in your darkest days or most anxious days or most messed up days, remember – things are going to be okay. Everyone has ups and downs, and maybe yours are worse than others, but there is always someone worse off. Work on yourself and work on getting better/staying better because I swear to God, it is totally worth it in the end.
Do not be embarrassed. There is such a stigma around mental health. No one wants to talk about it, as if it’s some secret. Many go through life denying it or keeping it a secret like they did something wrong. Having a chemical imbalance in your brain isn’t who you are and admitting it only makes you stronger.
3. You are the only one who can help yourself, but don’t be afraid to let people help you.
In the end, you are the one who is responsible for your actions and your happiness. You can’t rely on anyone else to make you happy and it is no ones job but your own. It is okay to be selfish and to take charge of your life. But, on the other hand, do not be afraid to let people in. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This is key. Although your happiness is always in your own hands, you can’t do it alone. Whether it is a doctor, a friend, a family member, a therapist, whoever. Do not be afraid. Everyone copes with things differently, but talking to someone – anyone - allows you to admit to the issue and to deal with it.
4. Know your limits, and be okay with them.
It took me a few years to know the things I can and cannot do. And it took about another year to be okay with them. Things like sleep, light, proper food, exercise, and routine are important to mental health. For example, I know that I could never be a nurse because night shifts would screw me up all together. I love to travel and I need to stay away from redeye flights. I’d love to be the type of person who can stay up till 1am and get up at 6am and be totally fine, but I know the consequences, so I always make sure to get enough sleep. And you know what? That’s okay. I’m not missing out. I’m taking care of myself. Make changes, maintain the changes, and be fine with them. It doesn’t mean you have to play it safe; it means you have to find a healthy balance.
5. Don’t be scared of psychiatrists and medications
They are there to help you. Talk to doctors and find the right medications that work for you. Even though you can’t see it, there is a real imbalance in your brain and the medications are there to help even that out. Half of it is medication and half of it is personal growth, such as breathing exercise, positive thinking, and education. Which leads me to my next point…
6. Educate yourself
Continually educating yourself about your health gives you the power to move forward step by step in the right direction. There are tons of resources including conferences, classes, support groups, books, videos etc. Push yourself to do these things. The more you learn, the more you become aware of your actions & feelings and how to deal with them. It is also a great way to meet people or become aware of people who are going through the same things you are.
McKerracher Center in was my saving grace. It is a facility that provides day programs and night groups/classes to those with a variety of mental illnesses. After getting a referral from my psychiatrist, I attended a Bipolar education group. It was one day a week for six weeks and we learned everything from the different types of medications to alternative coping methods for highs, lows & anxiety to why the brain is the way it is (etc. etc…). It was a wonderful way to meet other people who are in the same situation, as well as learn about the illness. Attendees were also invited to bring a loved one, so that they can learn from a family/friends point of view what Bipolar is all about. Saskatoon
The biggest thing I’ve realized over the years is that my illness is my power, not my weakness. Embracing it and working with it has made me a stronger and happier person.
Love, hard work, and a little crazy.