I’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, PTSD, anxiety disorder, and I have anger issues. I’ve been to therapy, I’ve been prescribed medications that did everything from make me feel like I was bouncing off the walls, remove all emotions, make me just want to sleep, to dull my mind.
As I’ve written about numerous times here, and elsewhere, practicing mindfulness, changing my eating habits, exercise, and practicing Stoicism were game changers for me. These things have done more for me than therapy and medication management combined.
I will advocate these practices until I am blue in the face. They may not work for everyone. For someone who is say, schizophrenic possibly, medication is most likely going to be a part of every day life. But that does not mean that coupled with these things, it can not make a huge difference vs medication alone.
Life, for me, has done a complete 180 from where I was just a few months ago. It has been a difficult road. I still stumble. Quite frankly, if I were the type of person who indulged in drugs and/or alcohol, I would have gone out and acquired all the drugs and all the alcohol, were I not broke, and gone on a bender. Being even more honest, I am surprised I’m even still here.
I’ve contemplated suicide.
Mental Illness is nothing to fuck with: It still affects me every single day of my life. How I deal with it, the fact that I DO deal with it, determines how it affects me. The same goes for anyone living with it.
1. I journal: Not only to be creative and get those creative juices flowing, but also to release the demons, so to speak. I keep multiple journals for this reason. They don’t coincide with one another. I have my Idea Notebook, where I jot down anything that triggers creativity, even if it never gets used. I have one where I keep notes, tidbits of research, quotes I come across that I like, etc. that’s on my computer. Then there’s my personal diary of sorts. This is the one that’s hidden away in my nightstand. This is the one where I pour out all the sadness, anger, hostility, etc. Then I rubber band it, and put it away until I need to vent again.
2. I write- Obviously. But I do it for multiple reasons. I do it because it has always been my passion. But I also do it because it is healing. The only book I have published so far is a memoir that talks about the abuse I dealt with growing up until the end of my first marriage. From victim to survivor. It was therapeutic for me, and also, written in the hope that someone, somewhere, who went through or was still going through something similar would see it and realize, there was hope. It was my way of giving back. And that too, helped me.
3. Trust comes hard- You learn not to trust yourself. Or others. Then you do, then sometimes, that gets lost again. Then you have to start all over again. Rinse and repeat.
4. You question, everything- Yourself, everyone around you, the dog, the cat. Seriously, there are days I have so many questions and what seem like negative number of answers. Those days border on paranoia. It sucks.
5. Your emotions are really emotional- A crying jag can turn into a day/night long record of your life’s choices being played on repeat: And by that, I mean all the myriad ways your brain can think of that it thinks you’ve ever fucked up, in vivid technicolor, on intense repeat.
You can take these five things and run with them, down the negative corridor of despair; I’ve done it, for months and sometimes years at a time. Or, you can turn them around and make them work for you. That’s where the hope comes in. Hope is the anti-despair folks. The more we talk about mental illness, the more we make it a conversation not best left for quiet corners and whispers, the more hope we’ll find.
And though we may all be changed by it in some way, whether by our own personal experiences, or the experiences of others, what we share is the experience itself and the ability to help others who are going through the same thing.
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