I’ve always been the kind of person that gets anxious about taking mental health days off work. Some of that, I think, is due to the lingering stigma in society that it’s not a valid reason to take a day off, but I’m here to say let’s ditch that. Let’s ditch the guilt of taking a day for our mental health and ditch feeling guilty about how we spend it.
No matter how much coffee I drink, I am exhausted all the time, and it's because of my mental illness. Recovery is hard, but sometimes it's not even about recovery, it's just about getting through the day, and that's where I'm at right now. I have to fight to do anything; even getting dressed in the morning is a battle. As I sit typing this, my hands feel heavy, and with every breath, I want to quit and go back to bed.
Impulsivity is a symptom of many mental illnesses, from borderline personality disorder (BPD) to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and more. Unlike other symptoms, such as anxiety or apathy, impulsivity is still highly stigmatized and is often portrayed as being immature or careless rather than being a symptom of mental illness. Although impulsivity can definitely cause issues in your life, I would also argue that there are some hidden benefits of impulsivity.
Polyvagal theory has become an integral part of my healing journey as I learn to accept and cope with my trauma. But what is polyvagal theory? Let's talk about it.
For most of my childhood, I used reading to cope with trauma. This might not sound like a bad thing, and it wasn't entirely, but it came with a couple of big problems. Coping mechanisms develop as a way for us to protect ourselves, to survive despite threats to our wellbeing or identity. However, these coping mechanisms can get in the way of real connection.
If you're finding yourself needing more rest -- taking more naps or going to bed earlier than you used to ever since you started your journey toward recovery -- don't worry. It's normal. The truth is, most people need more rest in recovery because emotional work is hard work, and it tires us out.
Limitations in mental health recovery are real; but lately, I've been doing everything in my power to ignore my increasingly obvious limitations. I just don't want to be mentally ill anymore. I want it to go away so I can read and write and be a good wife and mother without a herculean effort. Even though I've been in recovery for years now, part of me still believes that if I just ignore my limitations and shame myself for having them in the first place, I'll be able to just breeze past them. Every time, this leads to a complete meltdown that forces me to honor my limitations, so you'd think I would know better by now, but here I am again, in meltdown mode.
Health anxiety used to be called hypochondria, and it's a highly stigmatized mental health condition. Instead of being taken seriously, health anxiety is often reduced to being "dramatic." I have dealt with health anxiety on and off for the last seven years, and I want to share my experience so others won't have to feel as alone as I have.
Countless times, people have told me that a person can only start to heal if they are ready to do the work themselves. They can't be forced into improving their lives. Despite hearing this message over and over, part of me really thought I could convince other people to heal and "get better" if I just said and did the right thing. This probably comes from a history of being responsible for co-regulating my parents' emotions. I grew up having to say and do the right thing to maintain my worth, and for a long time, that felt normal.
Recovery from mental illness is a long, complicated path, and even though the whole point of recovery is to help us grow, it still comes with limitations, setbacks, and collateral damage. Sometimes, in the midst of all the negatives, I lose sight of the positives, lose sight of hope. And I can't help but wonder, what if I never recover from mental illness?