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4 Truths That Are Easy to Forget When You Live With a Mental Illness

If you struggle with mental illness, you know some days are better than others and life is truly and up and down battle.  You have to be prepared for anything on any given day because your moods can surprise you. Letting your guard down can have devastating consequences.

Here are some things to remember if you struggle with a mental illness:

1. Self care is non-negotiable.

When you fail to take care of your own needs, physically and mentally, you will pay. Mental illness thrives on self-neglect. Lack of sleep, poor eating habits, isolation and negative self-talk will all snowball if given the opportunity, so staying on top of these things when you’re well will help to keep you well. If you aren’t well, working on these things with the help of your support network will help you recover more quickly.

2. Bad times happen, but they aren’t the end of the world.

I tend to get stuck in my head during a bad time and make a catastrophe out of it. This is something I need to work on.  Bad times are part of the game for everyone, but they can hit those of us with mental illness a bit harder than the average person because we tend to think this is how it’s going to be forever. The name of the game is remembering that a bad day is just that: one bad day. Or maybe it’s a bad week. Or a bad month. It doesn’t define you or your recovery. Recovery is an up and down battle that doesn’t look pretty, but the bad times don’t last forever. Some of the worst times I have had taught me the most important lessons in my recovery.

3. There is support out there.

Once I started to open up about my illness, I found out quickly who would support me and who would run in the other direction. But I’ve learned there are people out there who care. People who love me. Some of those people have gone through what I’ve gone through and have a lot of wisdom to offer. It just takes some time to find them. If you don’t have a support system, then get online, look for support groups, interview some therapists — whatever suits your situation and resources. Whether it’s on The Mighty, or in a basement support group or with a friend in a coffee shop… it’s there if you look for it. And believe me, it makes all the difference if you have it.

4. It’s not your fault.

You are not weak. You are not sick because of some lack of willpower or inability to control your own brain. Time and time again, I have seen people say, “if I could just pull myself out of this, I’d be fine!” It’s a lie. You are not to blame for your brain’s chemicals being out of whack. You fight day-in and day-out by putting one foot in front of the other and surviving. That is what you have the ability to control. And for that, you must give yourself respect and admiration.

Keep fighting the good fight.

Photo by Tiffany Combs on Unsplash

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