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Recovering from Mental Illness

I knew when my daughter was born three years ago that my life would never be the same. I had lots of support, but I still wasn't sure how having a baby would affect my recovery from schizoaffective disorder.
There are a lot of resources out there for how to deal with seasonal depression in the wintertime, but what about summertime depression? Coping with summertime depression is difficult because the sun is shining, the days are long, and the pressure to enjoy ourselves is high. For some of us though, summer brings with it unique challenges that can cause worsening depression symptoms.
You'll never know what you're truly capable of until you take risks and push yourself. This applies to everyone -- with or without a mental illness.
Is your habitual thinking helpful or unhelpful to your mental health recovery? Today, my therapist completely changed my approach to recovery, and even more importantly, she changed how I see myself and my decisions. With one simple question, she encouraged me to be more compassionate toward myself than I have been in years. I was explaining to her how I tend to get stuck in my mind whenever I feel I've failed or messed up because I sit and think about what I've done wrong, why, and why that makes me a terrible person. She asked, "Okay, but how does that help you?" 
I've struggled a lot with getting a good night's sleep. Almost every night I laid awake with my racing, anxious thoughts. I was exhausted physically, but couldn't quiet my mind. Once I finally fell asleep it wasn't for long. I would get up several times throughout the night. Some days I couldn't keep my eyes open at work. I would find a way to take a nap if at all possible. My situation felt desperate so I have been on a quest the past several months to discover ways to get a good night's sleep.
It's really okay to be lazy sometimes. Many of us with mental illness have been called lazy at one time or another due to the symptoms of our mental illness. When people don't understand our symptoms, they often try to shame us into simply not being mentally ill anymore by saying we're just being lazy or aren't trying hard enough. "Lazy" then transforms from a simple descriptive word to a powerful tool of shame. "Lazy" becomes the worst thing we could possibly be, and many of us avoid it at any cost. But the truth is, those of us with mental illness can be just as lazy as anybody else.
A few months ago I underwent eye muscle surgery to better align my eyes. This is a problem I have struggled with since birth, so it really gave my confidence a boost to look in the mirror and see straight eyes. The surgery was elective and something I really had to ask for.
Being honest in therapy is much easier said than done. Even though we go to therapy because we want help, there may be certain things we've never discussed with anyone, let alone a complete stranger. Or if you're like me, it's not that you don't want to be honest, it's that you get all turned around in your head the moment you walk into the office and completely forget what you were going to say. For others, you may never have had a person you could truly be honest with, and now you aren't sure how to go about it.
It's nearly impossible to stay calm and focused when you're a frazzled working mom. There's a lot coming at me right now and there's even more I want to do in the future. However, day-to-day life can be so grueling that those future plans seem hard to fathom. Some nights I congratulate myself just for getting through the day. Here are five things I do to keep me moving forward even when I'm ready to throw in the towel.
My husband and I are standing in the kitchen of our new house, picking out paint colors and deciding which projects to tackle first, when suddenly I think "It doesn't matter, I won't be there to enjoy it. I'm going to end up killing myself eventually." I don't mean to think this. I don't want to think this. Luckily, I've had experience with these intrusive suicidal thoughts before, and I'm able to stay calm. I know that I don't want to die, I'm just experiencing a lot of change and my brain is seeking out the comfort of its old neural pathways.
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