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29 Things People With Mental Illness Want to Leave Behind in 2017

For people who live with a mental illness, there’s a lot of pressure to work on yourself, as if there’s a state of “perfect mental health” you can eventually reach. This pressure to be “perfect” can make choosing New Year’s resolutions overwhelming, leaving you with a “new year, new me” attitude based on strict, impossible goals.

But the start of a new year is a good opportunity to reflect on how you’ve grown, and think about what you want to do better. To challenge perfection-inspired New Year’s resolutions, while still encouraging positive growth, we asked our mental health community what they are leaving behind in the new year. Because while (spoiler) you won’t be a completely different person when the clock strikes midnight, we can all hope for more self-love — and less negativity — in the years to come.

Here’s what they told us.

1. “I want to leave behind the words of people who said I was ‘crazy.’ Who said that borderline personality disorder and anxiety is all a mindset and not a big deal. This was told to me by a doctor. Let’s leave that stigma behind, everyone.” — Megan M.

2. “Fear in general. Anxiety has made me afraid to do so much. I want to find my confidence in myself again and stop being afraid of everything.” — Katie M.

3. “My unhealthy attachment to the one person who both makes me feel my absolute best but also my horrific worst.” — Erika G.

4. “My self-hatred. Just because I’ve been single for two years shouldn’t mean that I’m ugly and not worth it. I want to be more positive.” — Carly F.

5. “Feeling like I’m just a passenger and I have no control over my life. The feeling that I’m watching the sands of my life slowly trickle away towards some yawning abyss the power, nature and magnitude of which I can’t even comprehend. The feeling that I’m standing on the edge of some vast chasm, and I could fall in at any given moment. Those are the things I want to leave behind.” — Charl M.

6. “Guilt. I feel guilty for my illnesses and how they make me act at times. I don’t think anyone should feel guilty for struggling, so my goal is to absolve myself of guilt for feelings I have that are valid and the things I can’t always control.” — Kacey K.

7. “I want to leave the fear of other people’s rejection… 2018 is all about what I can accomplish, and fighting my illness without their judgement.” — Breeanna M.

8. “I need to get rid of my social phobia to make my dream come true: become a teacher.” — Juno B.

9. “Overthinking. I don’t think I’ll be able to but I’m going to work on it! I overthink everything because of my mental illnesses. Overanalyze. I know if I work on it my anxiety will get better.” — Joleen R.

10. “Shame. I am tired of feeling like a bad person because of the things my illness makes me feel, or the things it makes me do. I’m trying my best to get better and I wish my family could see that sometimes” — Jenny K.

11. “I want to leave behind the physical pain of my anxiety and depression. Instead of laying in bed in the morning, I want to be able to get up and actually make breakfast for myself. I want to be excited to go to classes and not get the tingles in my arms on the way. I want to be confident, not timid and not in agony.” —Kelsie N.

12. “I’m leaving behind worrying about how people might perceive me for my illness! I might have anxiety, but that doesn’t change who I am. So I’m leaving the fear of how my friends and family perceive me for that part. I’m still me!” — Megan P.

13. “Feeling alone in this world… I have a loving husband and wonderful kids but my anxiety/PTSD/ADHD/depression makes me feel like I’m alone and there’s no one here to help me.” — Charlee B.

14. “People who make me feel bad about myself are going to be left behind. Even though that includes my father and the people I used to call my best friends. I love myself with all my mistakes and if they can’t do that, then I’m better off without them.” — Sonja P.

15. “All the incredibly intense guilt I carry for every tiny little expectation others have for me that I don’t meet (even the ones I apparently imagined), also that I can learn to regulate my emotions better. The extremes and intensity of even the smallest thing is my biggest trigger for self-destructive behavior.” — Char B.

16. “My bed. I’m so tired of spending 20 hours a day in it. I just can’t seem to find motivation to do other things.” — Renee T.

17. “Stress. I’m still learning, but still accomplishing. I stress about the little things, especially in a high-stress environment (I’m a chef) and it always triggers my manic depression. But it’s not just at work, it’s at home too. I will be stress-free but it’s not something I’m stressing about. Peace.” — Ryan S.

18. “The shame. I want to be able to talk openly about my depression and facilitate dialogue about mental illness. I want people to understand that this is a part of who I am. It isn’t the whole of me, but it has to be accepted as part of my life.” — Melissa D.

19. “Many things, but one thing I want to leave behind is my anger towards people who won’t change.” — Sparkles S.

20. “The anxiety of being judged as a mother. People will always be judging, and I know that, I just wish I could stop caring about what people say who have no idea what they are talking about.” — Haley W.

21. “The necessity of trying to explain that medication does not make us magically OK. We have good and bad days, just like anyone else — it doesn’t mean our meds aren’t working, should be changed, or that we aren’t taking them.” — Selena W.

22.Self-harm: it’s time to take that off the table so I can learn how to feel, express and process my emotions instead of reaching for physical pain every time I get overwhelmed.” — Megan G.

23. “The guilt. I feel guilty for having it and making other people deal with it on a daily basis. Guilt that it causes problems no matter how much I try to rein it in. Guilt that I’m not and never will be good enough, will never be happy with myself, or with the life I’ve been given. Guilt for not trying harder, even though I know I’m doing the best I can. Guilt for hating myself, and being jealous of those who don’t have to deal with this. Guilt that I need medications to feel somewhat ‘normal.’ The guilt consumes me.” — Christine L.

24. “Guilt and shame when my mental illness keeps me from a social gathering or causes my work productivity to go down a bit, for when I need alone time. I have a chronic illness and I have to remember these are sometimes part and parcel and be more forgiving of myself.” — Emily G.

25. “Bad self-care habits. I’ve never really had healthy ones and I’d like to develop some.” — Nova T.

26. “The secrecy of my struggles with depression and the mask I put on pretending that it doesn’t exist.” — Megan K.

27. “Regrets. Regret of not taking a chance. Regret of doing the same thing over and over again, not out of want, but out of fear of doing something different. Regret of not attempting to write a novel or story, or going somewhere new and different. Regret of not talking to someone, or feeling relaxed when I do.” — James R.

28. “This may sound weird, but I want to stop feeding into the thoughts that create my mental illness. I want to stop reading these mental health awareness posts that put it in a box because no two mental illnesses, person, perception, circumstances and triggers are the same… If I could leave behind anything it’s the idea that mental illness is a broad illness that can be treated generally, because it’s actually very specific to each individual and should be treated as such with time and attention to detail, in my opinion.” — Qori L.

29. “I want to leave behind my self-doubt. I want to believe in myself and not doubt my capabilities. I want my brain to tell me how amazing I am and not that I am not good enough.” — Alicia P.

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

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

Lead photo via Julia_Sudnitskaya