How To Embrace Your Mental Illness

More often than not, I trust no one. It’s been this way for years. At fifteen years old I was diagnosed with Paranoid Personality Disorder. Though I’ve seen much improvement, I have yet to come to terms with the fact that this is something I will always battle. It’s often difficult to be accepting knowing I am the only one in my family who suffers from mental illness. So how have I come to embrace it?

Mental disorders affect one in four people, not all of whom will have access to therapy services. This is why healing has to start with the self. The first step towards any type of recovery is acceptance. Acknowledge that you are suffering from a very legitimate illness. Denial only slows down the process.

Be in the know. Educate yourself and others. Know your habits and how to approach them. Understanding your triggers will help you to manage them better. However, know that mental illness follows no rules, and while it may be easier to follow patterns, things remain unexpected. It will take time but you will learn how to better handle your outbursts. Let your loved ones know how they can approach you.

Come up with a self-care regimen. Figure out what makes you feel in control. Despite my lack of confidence in strangers, I am entirely comfortable with my closest friends. I choose to be surrounded by them. I am constantly overcoming my struggle to let loose. Set goals for yourself and, if it helps, write them down. Put a schedule together. Consider the small victories like getting out of bed when you felt like you couldn’t. When I tick off a box on my to-do list, I always feel it’s a cause for celebration.

Engage in a hobby. I am not vocal but I am expressive, so I write. Create balance between doing something you are familiar with and doing something new. Expanding your horizons will make you feel empowered. Do something physical, even if you are a couch potato. If sports are not your thing (as they aren’t mine), jog or work out. Exercise can only bring about good energy.

Meditate. Learn how to zone out every once in a while and focus only on yourself. This is the one time you can think about where and who you want to be, fully, with no distractions. Yoga isn’t always accessible, but YouTube tutorials will do.

Don’t be afraid to seek help. And I don’t just mean a doctor. Confide in your family as they are most available to you. Admitting that your abilities may be limited is not a sign of weakness. Health trumps pride, and initiative is key to recognizing that you are not alone. While shame is an ordinary feeling for people who are new to therapy, knowing that you are getting better is overpowering.

Last of all, be patient. Healing never happens overnight. Progress always demands time. Be there for yourself and allow others to be there for you.

Mental illness stays with you. So instead of trying to outsmart it, embrace it.

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