New Year's resolutions are tricky for everyone, but they can be particularly troublesome for those of us recovering from mental illness. How do you set goals that will push you but won't push you over the edge? Is it possible to make resolutions that you can still accomplish even if it turns out to be a bad year for your mental health? Do you have enough faith in yourself to even set any goals this year? It's hard to know the answers to these questions, which begs another question: are New Year's resolutions a good idea for people with mental illness? I think they absolutely can be, it just depends on each individual person and their situation.
Recovering from Mental Illness
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.
A new baby impacts your mental health just as many life events can have a significant impact on mental health recovery, a fact which I've been reminded of recently. Just a few weeks ago, I had a beautiful baby boy, and though I've been lucky enough to avoid postpartum depression, I've still had to make several adjustments in order to prioritize my mental health. In this post, I want to share a few of my tips for maintaining good mental health even through all the chaos of bringing home a new baby.
I have been writing for the "Recovering from Mental Illness" blog at HealthyPlace for over two years now. It has been an amazing experience that forced me to really examine my own mental health and what recovery means to me. I am in a better place because of it. I've also gained a lot of confidence as a writer.
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.
The holidays are upon us, which means it's more important than ever to set healthy boundaries to maintain your mental health and wellbeing. Family parties, gift-giving, and the pressure to enjoy yourself can all impact your mental health during the holiday season, especially if you don't have solid boundaries set up to protect yourself. In the past, all of these things have made me miserable throughout the holiday season, but over the years I've learned how to set healthy boundaries and actually enjoy the holidays despite my mental health issues.
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.
People might think I have my life together, and for the most part, I do. But even after years of recovery, I still struggle. My struggles and how I react to them are different now from when I was first diagnosed, but some days it is painfully clear that recovery is a lifelong battle.
It might sound simple, but knowing how to process emotions instead of reacting to them has been a huge part of my mental health recovery journey. My automatic instinct when I feel any emotion is to react to it with another emotion. Then I react to that emotion, and the cycle continues until I have gotten myself truly worked up and the original emotion has been buried beneath layers of confusion and shame. Clearly this isn't the healthiest method for dealing with emotions. Through therapy and journaling, I'm learning to process my emotions instead of reacting to them.