hands holding a teacup in front of an open book

 

I think that, for most of us, there are times in life when it all just feel like Too Much.

There may be some days, weeks, months, maybe even years when – for whatever reason – just getting through the day, or going to work, or putting one foot in front of the other feels hard. Really, really hard.

Maybe it’s because you’re wrestling with anxiety, depression or some other mental illness. Maybe it’s because you’ve had your heart broken. Maybe you’ve gone through a physical or emotional trauma. Maybe you’re deeply grieving. Or maybe there’s no easily understood reason for why you’re feeling bad.

Whatever the case, I want you to know that it’s OK if you’re going through a tough time. This doesn’t make you any less lovable, worthy or capable. This just means you’re human.

Being a human can be a messy, hard, confusing, painful experience sometimes.

So if you or someone you love is going through one of these tough times right now, a time where it all just feels like too much, I want to offer up 101 suggestions for self-care to help you or your loved one get through this time.

1. Have a good, long, body-shaking cry.

2. Call a trusted friend or family member and talk it out.

3. Call in sick. Take comp time if you can. Take a mental health day.

4. Say no to extra obligations, chores, or anything that pulls on your precious self-care time.

5. Book a session (or more!) with your therapist.

6. Dial down your expectations of yourself at this time. When you’re going through life’s tough times, I invite you to soften your expectations of yourself and others.

7. Tuck yourself into bed early with a good book and clean sheets.

8. Watch a comforting/silly/funny/lighthearted TV show or movie. (“Parks and Recreation,” anyone?)

9. Reread your favorite picture and chapter books from childhood.

10. Ask for some love and tenderness from your friends on social media. Let them comment on your post and remind you that you’re loved.

11. Look at some some really gorgeous pieces of art.

12. Watch Youtube videos of Ellen DeGeneres and the adorable kids she has on her show.

13. Look at faith-in-humanity-restoring lists from Buzzfeed.

14. Ask for help. From whoever you need it – your boss, your doctor, your partner, your therapist, your mom. Let people know you need some help.

15. Wrap yourself up in a cozy fleece blanket and sip a cup of hot tea.

16. Breathe. Deeply. Slowly. Four counts in. Six counts out.

17. Hydrate. Have you had enough water today?

18. Eat. Have you eaten something healthy and nourishing today?

19. Sleep. Have you slept 7-9 hours? Is it time for some rest?

20. Shower. Then dry your hair and put on clothes that make you feel good.

21. Go outside and be in the sunshine.

22. Move your body gently in ways that feel good. Maybe aim for 30 minutes. Or 10 if 30 feels like too much.

23. Read a story (or stories) of people who overcame adversity or maybe dealt with mental illness, too. (I personally admire JK Rowling’s story.)

24. Go to a 12-Step meeting. Or any group meeting where support is offered. Check out church listings, hospital listings, school listings for examples.

25. If you suspect something may be physiologically off with you, go see your doctor and/or psychiatrist and talk to them. Medication might help you at this time and they can assist you in assessing this.

26. Take a long, hot bath, light a candle and pamper yourself.

27. Read these inspirational quotes.

28. Cuddle someone or something. Your partner. A pillow. Your friend’s dog.

29. Read past emails/postcards/letters etc. from friends and family reminding you of happier times.

30. Knit. Sculpt. Bake. Engage your hands.

31. Exhaust yourself physically – running, yoga, swimming, whatever helps you feel fatigued.

32. Write it out. Free form in a journal or a Google doc. Get it all out and vent.

33. Create a plan if you’re feeling overwhelmed. List out what you need to do next to tackle and address whatever you’re facing. Chunk it down into manageable and understandable pieces.

34. Remember: You only have to get through the next five minutes. Then the next five. And so on.

35. Take five minutes to meditate.

36. Write out a list of 25 Reasons Why You’ll Be OK.

37. Write out a list of 25 Examples of Things You’ve Overcome or Accomplished.

38. Write out a list of 25 Reasons Why You’re a Good, Lovable Person.

39. Write out a list of 25 Things That Make Your Life Beautiful.

40. Sniff some scents that bring you joy or remind you of happier times.

41. Ask for support from friends and family via text if voice-to-voice contact feels like too much. Ask them to check in with you via text daily/weekly. Whatever you need.

42. Lay down on the ground. Let the earth/floor hold you. You don’t have to hold it all on your own.

43. Clean up a corner of a room of your house. Sometimes tidying up can help calm our minds.

44. Ask yourself: What’s my next most immediate priority? Do that. Then ask the question again.

45. Read some poetry. Rumi, Hafiz, Mary Oliver are all excellent.

46. Take a tech break. Delete or deactivate social media if it feels too triggering right now.

47. Or maybe get on tech. If you’ve been isolating maybe even interacting with friends and family online might feel good.

48. Go out in public and be around others. You don’t have to engage. But maybe go sit in a coffee shop or on a bench at a museum and soak up the humanity around you.

49. Or if you’re feeling too saturated with contact, go home. Cancel plans and tend to the introverted parts of yourself.

50. Ask friends and family to remind you that things will be OK and that what you’re feeling is temporary.

51. Put up some Christmas lights in your bedroom. They often make things more magical.

52. Spend a little money and treat yourself to some self-care and comfort. Maybe take a taxi versus the bus. Buy your lunch instead of forcing yourself to pack it. Buy some flowers that delight you.

53. Make art. Scribble with crayons. Splash some watercolors. Paint a rock. Whatever. Just create something.

54. Go wander around outside in your neighborhood and take a look at all the lovely houses and the way people decorate their gardens. Delight in the diversity of design.

55. Go visit or volunteer at your local animal rescue. Pet some animals.

56. Look at photos of people you love. Set them as the wallpaper of your phone or laptop.

57. Create and listen to a playlist of songs that remind you of happier times.

58. Read some spiritual literature.

59. Scream, pound pillows, tear up paper, shake your body to move the energy out.

60. Eat your favorite, most comforting foods.

61. Watch old Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood videos online.

62. Turn off the lights, sit down, stare into space and do absolutely nothing.

63. Pick one or two things that feel like progress and do them. Make your bed. Put away the dishes. Return an email.

64. Go to a church or spiritual community service. Sit among others and absorb any guidance or grace that feels good to you.

65. Allow yourself to fantasize about what you’re hoping or longing for. There are clues and energy in your reveries and daydreams that are worth paying attention to.

66. Watch Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response videos to help you calm down and fall asleep at night.

67. Listen to monks chanting, singing Tibetan bowls or nature sounds to help soothe you.

68. Color in some adult coloring books.

69. Revisit an old hobby. Even if it feels a little forced, try your hand at things you used to enjoy and see what comes up for you.

70. Go to the ocean. Soak up the negative ions.

71. Go to the mountains. Absorb the strength and security of them.

72. Go to the forest. Drink in the shelter, life and sacredness of the trees.

73. Put down the personal help books and pick up some good old fashioned fiction.

74. Remember: Your only job right now is to put one foot in front of the other.

75. Allow and feel and express your feelings – all of them! – safely and appropriately. Seek out help if you need support in this.

76. Listen to sad songs or watch sad movies if you need a good cry. (“Steel Magnolias, anyone?)

77. Dance around wildly to your favorite, most cheesy songs from your high school years.

78. Put your hands in dirt. If you have a garden, go garden. If you have some indoor plants, tend to them. If you don’t have plants or a garden, go outside. Go to a local nursery and touch and smell all the gorgeous plants.

79. If you want to stay in bed all day watching Netflix, do it. Indulge.

80. Watch or listen to some comedy shows or goofy podcasts.

81. Look for and Google up examples of people who have gone through and made it through what you’re currently facing. Seek out models of inspiration.

82. Get expert help with whatever you need. Whether that’s through therapy, psychiatry, a lawyer, clergy, let those trained to support you do it.

83. Educate yourself about what you’re going through. Learn about what you’re facing, what you can expect to feel, and how you can support yourself in this place.

84. Establish a routine and stick to it. Routines can bring so much comfort and grounding in times of life that feel chaotic or out of control.

85. Do some hardcore nesting and make your home or bedroom as  cozy and beautiful and comforting as possible.

86. Get up early and watch a sunrise.

87. Go outside and set up a chair and watch the sunset.

88. Make your own list of self-soothing activities that engage all five of your senses.

89. Develop a supportive morning ritual for yourself.

90. Develop a relaxing evening ritual for yourself.

91. Join a support group for people who are going through what you’re going through. Check out the listings at local hospitals, libraries, churches, and universities to see what’s out there.

92. Volunteer at a local shelter or hospital or nursing home. Practice being of service to others who may also be going through a tough time.

93. Accompany a friend or family member to something. Even if it’s just keeping them company while they run errands, sometimes this kind of contact can feel like good self-care.

94. Take your dog for a walk. Or borrow a friend’s dog and take them for a walk.

95. Challenge your negative thinking.

96. Practice grounding, relaxation techniques.

97. Do something spontaneous. Walk or drive a different way to work. Order something new off the menu.Listen to a Spotify playlist of new songs.

98. Work with your doctor, naturopath or nutritionist to develop a physical exercise plan and food plan that will be supportive to whatever you’re facing right now.

99. Pray. Meditate. Write a letter to God/The Universe/Source/Your Higher Self, whatever you believe in.

100. As much as you can, please try and trust the process.

101. Finally, please remember, what you’re going through right now is temporary. It may not feel like that from inside the tough time you’re in, but this too shall pass and you will feel different again someday. If you can’t have faith in that, let me hold the hope for you.

I hope you found this list of self-care suggestions helpful in some way. But please remember, by no means is this list exhaustive nor will every item on this list possibly feel good and right for you. This list is not meant to be prescriptive, nor do I mean to imply you need to do all or any of these things to take good care of yourself. You are the expert of your own experience and I trust that you know what’s best for you.

Really, this list is really just a starting point meant to catalyze your own thinking about how you can best take care of yourself during life’s tough times and to spark your curiosity and interest in strengthening your self-care now and ongoing. Also, my hope is that in reading this you’re also hearing me say how normal and natural it is to struggle and to have these tough, hard times. It’s part of being human. You’re not alone in this.

But I have to say: The suggestions in this list are in no way a substitute for care or advice from a licensed mental health care clinician. These are self-care coaching suggestions, not therapeutic advice. Moreover, if you feel suicidal or find yourself having suicidal ideations, please call the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255.

Now I’d love to hear from you in the comments below: What self-care techniques have really supported you when going through life’s tough times? Let us know one or more ideas, tools or activities that have brought you relief and comfort so that others can benefit from your experience and wisdom. 

Until next time, take very good care of yourself.

Warmly, Annie

This piece was originally published on Annie Wright Psychotherapy

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 101 Self-Care Suggestions for When It All Feels Like Too Much

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Meme stating Every single day you make a choice.
Meme that states: “Every single day you make a choice.”

Seems simple doesn’t it? Just wake up and choose to be happy or miserable. Unfortunately, for some this may be an impossibility. Mental illness is not a choice, just like cancer is not a choice.

I wish people would stop feeding the stigma that mental illness, depression, or mania is a choice.

I feel this meme, as with many others, feeds the stigma that many, like myself, living with bipolar disorder or depression can wake up and make a choice to see the bright side of things.

There are many days when my eyes open and I realize that I have to get out of bed to feed my seven children, bathe them, homeschool them, that I would rather spend my day under the comfort of my giant blanket. I do get up, but I don’t want to. It is so very difficult, leaving me angered, irritated, agitated and drained by 4 p.m. It is not bright, sunny, full of smiles and laughter like I wish it could be.

Yet some days by the end of the day, I am happy I made the decision to force my feet to the floor, to pull my pants on, to make something somewhat reasonable for my kids to eat, to educate them, to hear them play with one another. Hardly a choice most days, necessity usually. I love these children, I owe it to them to care for them as best I can.

Memes such as this one can feed the idea to the masses that those with mental illness can just choose to be happy, choose to see the sunny side of things, not out of necessity, but out of happiness. Unfortunately, it does not work this way for those with mental illness.

Many of us with mental illness get out of bed out of necessity — not out of choice — on a daily basis. There are bills to pay, kids to take care of, appointments to make, meetings to attend. I believe you simply cannot choose to be happy, just like you cannot choose to be sad.

If I told someone who was happy right now to be sad, they would likely have a hard time doing so. The opposite is quite true. Just as if I told someone who was manic to be depressed, they might have a hard time as well.

Emotion is not a choice. I believe emotion is something to be felt, on a whim, when the moment or time strikes.

“Have compassion for all beings, rich and poor alike; each has their suffering. Some suffer too much, others too little.”— Buddha

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Lead photo source: Imgur


The thing about having a mental health problem is that it feels like you’re not “normal” any more. Suddenly it seems like you’re not like most people. You’re not like you were or you may be in the future. You’re different now – whether for a short amount of time or for life – you’ve changed.

The way you live your life has changed.

Everything is harder. Hard. Getting up. Breathing. The very concept of looking after yourself becomes an impossible idea. Work. Remember working? Working like everyone else, yeah, that’s harder too. Even if you love your job it’s still a nightmare to do. I’m working 32 hours this week, spread out over six days. It’s Friday and I’m a wreck. Hell, I was a wreck by Wednesday and I’d only done my usual hours by then (as well as working the Saturday before which I don’t normally do). It didn’t help I didn’t sleep properly Sunday or Monday night this week, but that feels like an excuse.

Every reason you have for not being able to do something like your friend, neighbor or colleague sounds like an excuse in your own head.

Because you know people do more while you’re floundering while trying to do less.

Which I think is where the stigma lies. Most people work 37/40/60 hours a week. Work more hours than I do, without even thinking about it, while I’m standing here exhausted after doing one extra day, crying and barely able to stand or walk or breathe. I’ve not even done half the hours they have and it’s hard to understand until suddenly you’re me and God damn, it’s hard.

It’s always so hard.

I’m tired of it being so hard.

Comparing yourself to other people, other people who may have their own problems but are clean and healthy and working full-time, is half the problem. Cause suddenly, you have no self-esteem because of the depression. Then you’re faced with a 100 other people who are not curled up into a ball in their underwear sobbing on a semi-regular basis. You end up wondering what you are doing wrong because you assume it’s your fault, something you’re doing.

It’s hard, all this, but it’s not my fault. I can’t work six day weeks even if four of those days are half days because I can’t, not because I won’t (because, I am) but because it’s so damn hard all I want to do is cry or scream.

I am picking crying at the moment.

Some people are lazy. Some people can afford to work 20 hour weeks.

Some of us want to work more hours even though I can’t and keep my sanity. I can’t work a 40-hour week. I can’t live on a 20-hour one. No one seems to care either way.

At one point I had to nap every day around four. Even though I had only gotten up around 11. Now I actually get up and work. I am getting better, but there are some days when you’re looking at the world and your place in it, and it seems like you’re a waste of energy. That the amount of energy it takes for me to actually do anything some days is just wasted on me – someone much more productive could be using that energy, breathing my air, filling my space.

I hide it well. I laugh. I smile. I joke. I joke about being tired and crawling up into a ball and crying. Cause it’s easier than trying to explain my reality of crawling up into a ball in my wife’s arms and crying because I can’t get my head on straight today and the stress of just being alive has finally reduced me to this wreck once more. A few people understand. A few people in my real world get it and only need the odd reminders of my inabilities.

This is all horribly negative but it’s hard to be wonderfully positive when I fell like this. Hell, it’s hard to be neutral.

Take care. Don’t judge the part-timers, the unemployed, the constant yawners. Some of us are doing better than we thought and still don’t think it’s enough. Most of the time we’re just glad we’re still breathing.

If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

The Crisis Text Line is looking for volunteers! If you’re interesting in becoming a Crisis Counselor, you can learn more information here.


author holding baby My 6-month-old is perfect; you just have to meet him, and you’ll agree. He is the embodiment of love. He is bashful and friendly. He is smart and hitting his milestones earlier than expected. He is healthy, and he is so happy. It’s rare to catch Jack without a smile across his face. His laugh could warm the coldest of hearts.

I am so lucky because as of right now, I am his world. I was his first kiss, his first hug. I was his first friend. I am the person he can depend on. I am the person who provides for him. We are together all day; we barely ever are away from each other. We are connected at the hip. We are deeply in a love I’ve never experienced. Right now, in Jack’s eyes, I am perfect. And I’m terrified because that won’t last.

Of course I’ll make parenting failures because I am only human. But in addition to knowing I’ll let him down, I know some days I’ll be sick, and I won’t be able to be the mom I want to be with Jack. Some days, my ADHD will distract me from loving him to my fullest, my Lyme disease will weaken me when I play with him. My PTSD will send me in a panic and make me forget, and worst of all, my bipolar disorder will take control. I know I am not perfect. I know my mental illness may win a battle (although, I think I will win the war some day). I’m kind of used to having my mental illness hurt other people; I try to do damage control, and I try to listen to my body to stay away from my loved ones when I lose control. A lot of times I’m forgiven, but I’ve lost a lot of people too. I don’t necessarily blame the people I’ve lost; I don’t know if I could maintain a friendship with myself.

But now I have everything to lose; I have a little human who relies on me. I can really let someone down; I could really do damage. And that terrifies me.
I have thought long and hard about how I will explain this all to my son on days I don’t feel well. I can’t just tell him the medical reasons when he’s so young.

So I’ve decided, instead of isolating myself or trying to over-educate someone who can’t really take all of that information in, I will educate him simply by teaching him mental illness is a sickness. And I think that’s all I’ll tell him at first: I’m sick. Mommy doesn’t feel well. As he gets older I’ll go more into detail: Mommy’s head doesn’t feel good. Do you think you could go for a walk with Mommy? I will teach him about self-soothe and have him involved in my treatment. My hopes in doing this is to break the stigma.

The biggest reason I will be doing this is to prepare him; there is a chance he will have a mental illness. I don’t want him to think there’s no help, that something is terribly wrong with him. I want him to treat his mental health just like he would a cold and seek treatment and keep up with medications. I think by making my mental health something that isn’t a big deal, he’ll know it’s something people normally need to take care of.

Someday he will ask me what’s wrong, and I will tell him I’m sick, that I’m battling something I know I can conquer — especially with him and his love by my side. My son gives me the courage to fight my demons, and I won’t let him down.

Follow this journey on Taylor’s site.


I sometimes hear that treating depression/anxiety/bipolar/schizophrenia (and all mental illness) with antidepressants and antipsychotics is just a Band-Aid. Not useful. Not a cure. Why bother?

My reply would be — because they help us to live our lives. There’s no cure for diabetes, but to maintain life, and quality of, they use insulin. No one balks at diabetics. No one questions their faith. No one tells them to watch kitten videos and just stop thinking about it.

Do you see how absurd that is? People with depression (and on and on) have symptoms. Sometimes these symptoms can turn deadly. The illness is disputed because it’s not visible. The illness is disputed because it’s in our brain. People connect our brain with our hearts, and so wrongly assume our hearts aren’t in the right place. We must be lacking in some way. But surely it can be fixed with proper prayer, positive thoughts and meditation. Do you know how costly this type of mentality can be? It can cost your loved one’s life. We don’t need a sermon. We don’t need suggestions. We need love. We need acceptance. We need to know we don’t have to advocate for our lives alone.

No. The antidepressants and antipsychotics don’t cure us. They do, however, help us live life as best we can, day by day… while our brains and the chemicals we lack fight against ever single fiber of our being. What we lack chemically causes us to question our value. And it causes us to question if we are even worth the cost.

You can’t yell someone’s mental illness away. I can speak for myself and say that mine could not be prayed away. Trying to do that, and that alone, nearly cost me my life. It nearly cost my mother her daughter. My husband his wife and my children their mother. I needed real, tangible care. Quickly.

That is how very real and horrible this thing is. Don’t guilt your loved ones out of help. Ask when their appointments are — offer to drive them. Listen to them. They need you to hear. What they say might scare you — all the more reason to fight along with them. To advocate beside them.

This is a matter of life and death. It’s as real as any other disease or illness. And it is sorely misunderstood. It is frightening to be on this side of things. Asking for help is hard, receiving help is hard. Finding good, quality help, nearly impossible.

We need you. Like air, we need you. Continue to pray, continue to encourage us, but take action and help us live. It all matters. Every person matters. Their heartbreak — matters. Don’t delay — don’t wonder if you shouldn’t intervene. Show up. Choose love. Tender, caring, supportive love. Be proactive. Don’t be too late.

If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

The Crisis Text Line is looking for volunteers! If you’re interesting in becoming a Crisis Counselor, you can learn more information here.

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A preface to this piece: In no way is this meant to romanticize mental illness. In no way is this meant to be anything but a personal account of living with concurrent mental illnesses. I do not know who, if anyone, will read this. However, I felt compelled to share my story. It’s not a remarkable story, nor am I a particularly remarkable individual. This is simply the truth about what I have experienced. My greatest hope is that whoever is reading this will feel less alone.

As I sit here on my twin bed, I find it difficult to find a place to begin. After studying history at university, I developed the ability to write about events, people and their effects on the world around them. However, when it comes to my own story, my own decisions, I have a hard time doing so. As many doctors and psychiatrists have told me, I am an “interesting and unique case.” What does this mean? I’ve been trying to figure that out for a while. I’ve cried over it. Agonized over it. Gotten angry about it. Tried to avoid it. And now I simply accept that it is a part of who I am.

Being diagnosed with any illness is disarming and frustrating. There are knowns and unknowns. Fear and anger. Through the years I’ve been through the mental health system, I’ve had the majority of the ten dollar word diagnosis thrown my way. I will not list them all, but trust me when I say this – there have been quite a few.

I want to tell tell you what I’ve discovered along my personal journey. They are not meant to generalize at all. However, I know I would have liked to know a few of the following sooner than I did.

1. Just like any part of the human body, the brain can also get sick.

This is the most important and simple statement that changed almost everything for me. So simple right? Right. However, I look back on health class and can only really remember cringe-inducing demonstrations of how to put on condoms and not a whole lot about mental health. I learned to identify the symptoms of various illnesses and conditions through biology and health class – but do not remember learning to identify symptoms or early onset warnings of deteriorating mental health. If I had known that the brain got sick, maybe I would have sought help sooner. Maybe I wouldn’t have been afraid to disclose all of my diagnosis to an employer or romantic partner. I can’t be sure. But knowing that has helped me reach acceptance. My brain is sick. Just because I don’t have a bandage on my head saying so doesn’t make mental illness any less of a sickness.

2. Not everyone will understand.

This was a hard one to swallow. No, not everyone will understand that an eating disorder is not a choice, that depression can’t be cured by enthusiastically suggesting I “cheer up” and that anxiety cannot be reduced by simply being told to relax. I fear a rant coming on with this one, so I shall end the point there. However, for those who don’t understand, there are always going to be people who, although they may not understand the full scope of a mental illness, will be patient with you and listen and care and love you through it. Make sure you say thank you to those people. Those are the good ones.

3. Sometimes anti-depressants can make you really gassy.

That’s it. Would have been a nice to know.

4. It will take some time for medication to kick in.

I know other ways I used to provide myself a quick relief from the heavy feelings I was often filled with. These were not healthy. These were not sustainable. I told myself I deserved a chance to feel better, so I gave medication a try. I’m glad I did.

5. Sometimes the first medication isn’t the right one.

Or the second. Or the third. That’s OK. If a medication is making you sleep through 15 alarms every morning, give your psychiatrist a call. Chances are, there is a better match.(There was in my case.)

6. Treat yourself with the same compassion you would treat a loved one if she was ill.

You deserve it.

7. Do not attach yourself to a diagnosis.

This was another big one. Instead of allowing it to define me, I am working on accepting the fact that although it is a part of my life, it doesn’t have to define my life.

8. It can be scary to challenge a mental illness.

It will be scary to leave that dark place. Although it’s dark, it’s also known. Anyone who knows me at all will attest to the fact I don’t do well with change. However, to be totally cliché, it does feel much better.

9. Success in recovery is what you make of it.

Give yourself recognition and kindness. You went to a full day of program and managed to meet a friend for tea? Kudos! You got out of bed today and showered? Kudos! You enjoyed the flavor of a food you ate? Kudos!

10. My recovery has not been linear.

There have been many side steps and changing directions. Accepting this has allowed me to be more mindful and present. Through it all though, I have found lights to hold onto and darker things/places/people to let go of. My initial expectation of recovery was a straight line. Now I know it is a wiggling line that is always changing. And that’s OK.

11. You’ll meet incredible people. 

The people I’ve met through various programs and groups are so incredibly special to me. Nothing is more refreshing than having someone say, “I know how that feels.” And you know they do. Hold onto these people.

12. “It’s always darkest before the dawn.”

I know this is a song lyric. However, a very special person in my life told me this when I was deep in the throes. It stuck and it was true.

Although at times it felt like so much was taken from me from my illnesses, I have also gained a lot. I know what triggers me. I know quite a bit about community resources for mental health in my area. I’ve met lifelong friends and can truly say, for the first time in quite some time, I’m starting to truly love myself for who I am. But most importantly, I know I am not alone. And if there is anything that you can take from this rambling about my life, I hope it is this:

You are not alone. You deserve help. If you are worried about a loved one who might be dealing with mental illness, please approach them with acceptance and an open heart. Above all, talk about it. Break down the stigma that silences/has silenced so many (myself included). Have an open conversation. Educate yourself.

The Mighty is asking the following: Create a list-style story of your choice in regards to disability, disease or illness. It can be lighthearted and funny or more serious — whatever inspires you. Be sure to include at least one intro paragraph for your list. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Real People. Real Stories.

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