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Embracing Mental Health Recovery

Are you using old coping mechanisms that no longer serve you? Coping mechanisms are habits and behaviors that we use in order to cope with problems we can't necessarily solve. For instance, if you have to take a big test and it gives you tremendous anxiety, you can't just not take the test or simply stop being anxious. Instead, you need to cope with your anxiety to get through the experience. But what happens when the old coping mechanisms we use actually start causing problems instead of solving them?
The Internet both helped and hurt my mental health. I truly believe the internet has done wonderful things for those with mental illness in our day and age. Before the internet, if you had a relatively rare mental illness, you might have felt completely alone or at fault for your situation. Those feelings persist today, but I think the internet has played a huge role in decreasing those feelings.
In addition to recovering from mental illness, it's also important for us to learn how to prevent mental health relapse in times of stress. Lately, my mental health has been doing really well. I've put in a lot of work, and it's finally paying off, but recently, some family stress has put all of my progress to the test. I've noticed a lot of my typical mental illness symptoms struggling to reemerge, to rear their ugly heads and completely derail my life. Luckily, I've managed to keep them to a minimum and prevent a full-on mental health relapse. I thought it would be helpful to share how I'm managing to prevent relapse.
How might you balance social responsibility and mental health recovery? In my mental health recovery, I have had to consider what responsibilities I have to myself vs. social responsibility.
Impulsivity is not the only impulse control issue that can coincide with mental illness. The opposite can also be a problem: excessive self-control. I can remember being overly concerned about controlling my impulses from a very young age, even though I was never a very impulsive child. For some reason, I thought I had really bad self-control and needed to be more in control. To this day, I still struggle to simply act on my impulses without a lot of anxiety; excessive self-control causes problems for me.
We need executive dysfunction coping skills because this type of dysfunction is a common symptom of all kinds of mental illnesses, from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to depression to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Executive dysfunction makes a person struggle to perform tasks that they are otherwise completely capable of performing. Although this is often mistaken for laziness, it is a completely different experience.
How do you determine if you're depressed or just sad? Navigating emotions while recovering from mental illness is incredibly tricky. For me, mental illness completely broke my internal emotional compass. Before I experienced depression, I could identify emotions like sadness, worry, and joy fairly easily. But after I experienced depression, it became nearly impossible to distinguish between depression and sadness or nervousness and anxiety. Even though I've been recovering for years, this is still one of my biggest struggles as a human being. Luckily, all those years in therapy have taught me a few things, and I'd like to share them with you.
Recently, I've learned that behavior that is convenient for others is not always healthy behavior for me. I was taught at a young age that my natural reactions to things were "overdramatic" or "wrong" and so I started to hide my real reactions and feelings. I got very good at doing what I was "supposed" to do and being the way I felt I was "supposed" to be. Over time, I became much more concerned with making sure my behavior was convenient for others rather than healthy for me.
I have been taking a poetry class at a nearby university -- one I attended when I was struggling in early recovery. In returning this fall I've had to face fears and past failures.
Is it possible to be grateful for mental illness? Some days, I hate having mental health issues and would do almost anything to make them go away forever. But other days, on my better recovery days, I'm almost grateful for my mental illness. It feels weird to be grateful for something that makes me so miserable so often, but at the same time, I think it's the natural result of living with a chronic condition. After all, the reality is that I can't make my mental illness go away, so I might as well find some silver linings.