How I'm Living My Best Life With Mental Illness This Year

Reading over New Years resolutions on Facebook or hearing them from friends can feel overwhelming when you struggle with a mental illness. Personally, hearing people talk about losing weight and buying their dream car makes me feel like I’m living on another planet. I would really just like to wake up in the morning without the smothering weight of my borderline personality disorder (BPD), depression and anxiety. It sometimes feels like it would just be easier if I was just a different person but realistically, I know I’m stuck with these disorders. I need to learn how to live the best life I can with them.

That starts with trying new things and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Here are some goals that can help all of us live our best lives in 2018:

1. Commit to noticing one good thing each day.

It could be as small as a little kid that waves at you while you’re walking down the street. It could be that a new blossom sprang up on your plant or that the sun was out today with no clouds. Write the events down if you have to. Think about them when you’re feeling down. They are reminders that there is good in the world, even if it doesn’t always feel like it.

2. Exercise, especially when you’re upset.

Go for a walk. Climb a mountain. Swim in a pool. Take a dance class or learn how to do yoga. Exercising can help take your mind off something that’s weighing you down. Whenever I experience an extreme mood swing because of my borderline, I try to get up, move around and readjust my focus.

3. Find a hobby.

Keep busy with it. Use your time creatively if you want — learn how to paint by watching Youtube videos or visit local art galleries. If you’re low on money, visit a local library. They often have free presentations and nobody is going to stop you from sitting in a corner and reading. Keeping your mind busy with creative pursuits leaves less time for ruminating and circular or catastrophic thinking.

4. Force yourself to go out with people you know support you.

This starts with identifying those people who bring unconditional love and support into your life. Surround yourself with them, even if it’s just during a lunch break or a brief visit on a weekend afternoon. Make yourself get out even if you feel like just curling up at home. Remind yourself how loved you are.

5. Cut down on your drinking and/or drug use.

If cutting it out altogether feels impossible, try to cut down. Set a goal for yourself each day. Reward yourself when you accomplish it and forgive yourself when you don’t. It’s a process. Try to take it one day at a time.

6. Choose to keep waking up in the morning.

I’ve discovered that much of living life with a mental illness is making a conscious choice to wake up in the morning. It’s making a conscious choice to fight. Some days are worse than others. Sometimes nothing in life seems good. It can be a leap of faith, but if you keep making the choice to wake up, you will find goodness somewhere.

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