Healing Your Mental Health is a Lifetime Journey
Do you struggle with mental health issues? Is it difficult to come to terms with your diagnosis? Do you feel like your symptoms control your day?
If so, you are not alone. There are many people who have mental health conditions, and it is a lifetime journey to cope with them. It can be difficult to come to terms with the fact that your brain isn't wired the same way as other people. You may wonder if you have done something wrong or feel ashamed of yourself.
Letting go of the guilt and shame is important on your healing journey, because the truth is there is nothing that you have done wrong. You are a product of your genes and your environment. Sometimes things go wrong in our lives and cause changes to our brains that aren't always reversable.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health,
Mental illnesses are common in the United States. It is estimated that more than one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness (57.8 million in 2021). Mental illnesses include many different conditions that vary in degree of severity, ranging from mild to moderate to severe.
You are not alone in coping with mental health struggles. It is just that many people keep silent about them because there is a stigma against mental health issues today.
Guilt and shame
You may blame yourself for having a mental health diagnosis and feel like you have done something wrong for this to happen to you.
It can be a struggle to feel like you are not normal, and you feel guilty for not being able to cope with your mental health issues. You may feel like it makes you weak to struggle with anxiety, depression or something else. It isn't a weakness. Odds are, it is a combination of your brain chemistry and things that have happened in your life.
There is nothing that you did wrong to cause a mental health condition. Not being able to cope with life doesn't make you weak, it makes you human.
Learning to forgive yourself can go a long way towards promoting healing. Once you can forgive the fact that you have a mental health diagnosis, you will be able to focus on healing.
According to Healthline, here are some steps to be able to forgive yourself:
Focus on your emotions
Acknowledge the mistake out loud
Think of each mistake as a learning experience
Give yourself permission to put this process on hold
Have a conversation with your inner critic
Notice when you are being self-critical
Quiet the negative messages of your inner critic
Get clear about what you want
Take your own advice
Quit playing the tape
Show kindness and compassion
Seek professional help
All of these tips work with forgiving yourself, so that you will be able to move on, especially working with your inner critic. Many of us with a mental health issue have a strong inner critic and are prone to negative thinking.
When you have self-critical thoughts, you can use processes like affirmations and gratitude to counteract your inner critic. This way, you will be able to transform your thinking and be more positive. It is a process that takes time, and you will need to be gentle with yourself.
Getting professional help
When you have a mental health condition, it is important to work with a therapist, psychiatrist or other mental health professional. It helps to have a kind listening ear from someone who isn't involved with your day to day life and can be more objective about your situation.
A mental health professional can also help you with learning coping skills that are specific to your condition. Learning coping skills is key in your healing. Coping skills can help you learn to deal with your condition, and to be able to go through your daily life in a more normal way.
In addition to learning coping skills, a mental health professional may recommend medications for your condition. Taking medications helps me with my mental health issues, and helps me to feel like I am not overwhelmed with physical symptoms.
When you have a mental health issue, it is also helpful to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This will help you to feel more calm and balanced on a daily basis. Good health behaviors will help you to manage stress, which in turn will lessen your mental health symptoms.
Things like getting proper nutrition, exercise, sleep and drinking water can all help with making sure that you are in good physical condition. This helps with your mental health as well, because it will make you feel better overall.
When you exercise especially, it has been proven to help your mental health, because of the chemicals that are released in your body during exercise. These chemicals help you to feel good, and can balance out some of the negative moods that you may experience.
In order to reduce your mental health treatments, there are other alternative strategies that you can use. Some of these include:
All of these practices can help you feel more in tune with yourself, and heal your mind and body. This is because all of these practices can help you feel more relaxed and peaceful. When you have a relaxed and peaceful mindset, it can make you better equipped to deal with your mental health symptoms.
Lower your baseline of stress
For me, lowering my stress level is key for dealing with mental health issues. The more relaxed and less stressed out that you are, the easier that it will be to cope with mental health symptoms when they do arise.
Stress makes you constantly on the alert for something to go wrong. Then, you have less ability to cope when it does. There are many different negative impacts of stress on your physical and mental health, so reducing stress can have many benefits for your mental health condition.
Incorporating relaxing techniques, learning coping skills, going to therapy and taking medications can all help to lower your stress level. Then, when you are in a calm and regulated state, you will be better prepared for any mental health symptoms that come up.
If you lower your stress significantly, you may feel normal much of the time, and go for a while without any of your symptoms coming up. Your calm state will start to become the norm. Then, your symptoms will become the exception and not the rule for your life.
You can live a predominately normal life with a mental health condition if you keep your physical and mental health in mind, and take efforts to keep yourself healthy. It does take effort, but it is worth it in the long run and can leave you feeling much better.