7 Important Lessons My Mental Illness Taught Me

My mental illness, after six years of struggling with it, has taught me many things. It has taught me strength, given me hope and allowed me to meet so many amazing people. Here are some of the most important things it has taught me and might have taught you too:

1. True friends are hard to come by and can be even harder to keep when you struggle with your mental health.

Sometimes it’s so exhausting and tough living inside your own mind that keeping friends is not the most important thing on your list of things to do. But when you do find them, they become the most precious people in your life, and sometimes the only people who truly understand you.

2. Getting rid of toxic elements in your life is of vital importance.

When you struggle with your mental health, you can become your worst enemy. There’s nothing or no one who can do you more harm than you. So ridding yourself of all toxic elements in your life, of everything that is doing you more harm than good, is one of the best things you can do.

3. Being strong does not mean not struggling.

In our society, we are often made to believe we must always be happy and that struggling makes us weak. That is absolutely not true. It’s how you deal with your struggles that makes or breaks you. Remember, you’ve survived 100 percent of your worst days — who says you can’t live through a couple more?

4. You are never alone.

Though it definitely sometimes feels like it, you are never truly alone. There will always be someone willing to listen, whether that be a family member, a friend, a psychologist or even someone at a call center.

5. Not being OK is 100 percent OK.

You are allowed to feel bad. You are allowed to have bad days. Your feelings are totally and utterly valid. Do not let anyone ever tell you otherwise.

6. It’s OK to ask for help.

You don’t always have to put on a smiling face. Asking for help is never a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. You don’t have to go through this alone, and the right people will always be there to support you.

7. Putting yourself first might be the best thing you do.

It is completely acceptable to put yourself first for once and to think about yourself. It is not selfish, and you are not a “bad” person for doing so. You’ve been putting others first for so long, so give yourself a break and take care of yourself for once.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Thinkstock photo via retrorocket

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