Since My Mental Health Diagnosis: Why You Should Ask for Help
In honor of today being World Mental Health Day, I wanted to share a little bit more about my mental health recovery and why I’m so glad that I finally decided to seek help!
I think a lot of people are scared to get mental help because they are afraid of what they’ll find out about themselves or they fear the recovery process. From my personal view, my diagnosis was a complete shock to me and it was much ‘worse’ than I expected. But hearing those four terms didn’t change anything. It didn’t make my circumstances worse, I just finally found the definition for what I was feeling. Having that definition helped me figure out what I needed to do to get better. The point is, you can’t fix something if you don’t know what’s wrong. If I didn’t hear those four words, I’m 100% confident that I wouldn’t be in the place that I am today.
As for the recovery process, it obviously wasn’t easy. It wasn’t easy, but I promise you that it was much easier than living in an unending pain where I didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. Recovery is hard and it takes time, but every step you take makes it easier. Each step reminds you that you are strong enough to work through this and it shows you that there is a happy ending waiting for you. In a way, recovery was exciting to me. I knew I had work to do, but I was so happy to know that I actually didn’t have to feel the way I’d felt for so long, and I was working on giving that up.
I still consider myself in recovery. I’ve done the bulk of the work that I need to do, but I know that there is always room for improvement. Disorders like mine don’t just disappear, but you can learn how to work with them and still be happy.
So if there are any of you out there that need an extra push to start this journey, I want to share how my life has changed since I got my diagnosis..
One of the things that I struggled with most pre-recovery was how tired and sick I felt all the time. I woke up tired after a full night’s rest and still took a 4 hour nap on a daily basis. On top of that, I always had a headache/migraine that was so bad that it made it hard for me to simply think. And when things got really bad, I would get stomach aches, start shaking, have a nervous/nauseous feeling, etc. Now, I rarely ever nap, my headaches have significantly decreased, and I almost never feel sick like that. But just to be clear with this one, this wasn’t a mental/emotional improvement that I could have worked on to make this transition, this has come solely from medication.
The second thing that has significantly improved is my motivation and productivity. I think that the medication has helped in a sense because it’s given me the energy, but I also had to teach myself that if I wanted results in any aspect of life, I had to put in work. Being motivated and productive is really important to me because I thrive off of knowing that I made use of the day and gave it a purpose.
The way that I speak to myself has completely changed. Mental illness can make you feel so unworthy and unimportant. Before recovery, I spoke to myself in such a toxic way. Every “problem” that I had with myself was my focus, especially when it came to my appearance. I thought being mean to myself was a good form of encouragement to do better. For example, I would use my frustration about the way my body looked to fuel my motivation for exercise. But now, I think of exercise as a way to praise my body and fuel it to feel better - and it makes me want to workout so much more.
My confidence has significantly improved as well. Changing the way that I spoke to myself made a huge difference. I also stopped striving for perfection. I asked myself what difference would it truly make to feel physically “perfect”, and I realized that I would still have a lot of the same issues that I do now. So instead of hating the body that I was in, I praised it for the things that it allowed me to do - like travel, hug my loved ones, get out of bed in the morning, etc. When I started working out for the right reasons, I created a body that I proudly worked for. Even aside from physical appearance, when I became more productive I felt proud of myself. Working through all of my issues made me feel strong and resilient. I started focusing on the reasons to appreciate myself instead of the things that I needed to fix.
Becoming more confident and realizing my value has really changed the game for me. Understanding that I matter and my wants/needs matter has allowed me to start prioritizing myself and doing what’s best for me. I’ve also learned to cut off the people who don’t recognize my value or don’t treat me as if I have any, which has made me appreciate myself more in the long run. It’s so much better to have confidence and freedom instead of toxic relationships that can bring happy moments from time to time.
Recovery has made me realize how intertwined mental and physical health are. So now, I’ve made it a routine to workout at least 5x a week. Honestly, I’m still not “perfect” with the way that I eat, but I’ve incorporated more healthy meals and perfection isn’t the goal. I’m proud of the changes because I feel more energized, less lethargic and bloated.. I just feel healthy now!
This process has made me realize what my triggers are and how I can avoid them. I realized that being alone for long periods of time really triggers my anxiety and nightmares. I realized that certain people can make me act impulsive to match their energy. I realized that having a dirty room makes me feel extremely overwhelmed.. So, now you won’t catch me fueling those triggers.
I also realized that you can’t avoid all of your triggers or unwanted situations, so I learned how to cope with things in a healthy way. Some of my favorite ways to cope are journaling, taking a break to distract myself with something like Netflix, or heading out for a hard run.
I also had to find things that made me genuinely happy. I realized that I’d been so unhappy for so long because I never had anything (healthy) that I truly cared about and enjoyed. I love taking time to blog, nights with my girlfriends, going for runs, etc.
Lastly, I’ve become gratitude focused, “glass half full” if you will, which makes me feel so much more positive. Being thankful for the things I have took away from being upset about the things that I didn’t.
If you are questioning if something is wrong, or if you have a little gut feeling that you could be doing better than you are - ask for help. Know that you don’t always have to feel your best or pretend like you do to please others. You should value yourself more than other’s opinions and work towards the day where you feel genuinely happy. Reach out, ask for help, and get ready to put in the work. :)
Happy World Mental Health Day!