How to cope with mental illnesses | Don’t just medicate

So you have been diagnosed with a mental illness and this could be a big shock for you. For some of you, it could be something you already knew somewhere deep inside because you have noticed the symptoms or your parent had one.

Regardless of where you are on your journey with living with a mental illness, I hope this article helps you in some way. If not, offer you some kind of new insight.

You’re more than your diagnosis


Because mental illnesses are not visible illnesses, it is so easy to find yourself in a trap of thinking that your mental illness is your identity. For example, if you’re always depressed, then you might start thinking and seeing yourself as nothing but a depressed person who has nothing else to offer. When depression is so chronic and persistent, you might start to forget who you really are because all you feel is sadness and depression.

When living with a mental illness such as major depressive disorder, it is helpful to keep in mind that we are more than our illnesses. When you start to tell yourself “I am more than my mental illness”, something magical happens. You no longer shame and blame yourself for feeling the way you feel and you actually start to be more curious and sure about yourself. This alone can offer someone a great strength and courage to cope with living with mental illnesses, and it is quite powerful.  How to cope with mental illnesses

Find support


Mental illnesses can not only be so hard to deal with, but it gets even harder when you start to isolate yourself. And sadly that’s what most mental illnesses tend to do. We feel so terrible and alone in experiencing this nightmare like symptoms that we tend to start withdrawing.

But just with any other illnesses, the truth is that you are not the only person who has mental illnesses. I know the feeling of disappointment or even bitterness when talking to a friend about the challenges of mental illness and what you always hear is “you’ll be fine” or “you just gotta be positive”. I know I couldn’t help but feel so alone every time I heard that because it made me feel like nobody could understand what I was really going through. Now, that was painful.

So what I’m suggesting is try to find support from not just family and friends but step out of your comfort zone and actually try to find other people just like yourself who are going through the similar experiences. In my experience, I’ve gained so much valuable insight and support from my friend who also struggled with mental illness. She understood exactly what I was going through and therefore knew how to really be there for me in times of need.

How to cope with mental illnesses

Mindfulness


We hear it all the time but do we really know what it means to stay grounded? Living with mental illnesses can be difficult and chaotic at times. No matter what your religious orientation is, it can be life-saving to learn a little about meditation. I highly recommend checking out some of Thich Nhat Hanh’s work under “Helpful Resources” tab on my website. His insights and wisdom can truly offer comfort and skills to handle difficult emotions we go through when living with mental illnesses.    How to cope with mental illnesses

Don’t abandon yourself


If you are just like me, you often abandoned yourself every time life got scary or whenever it got too much to live with mental illnesses. Abandoning yourself means to bash, blame, attack, and completely check out from yourself when you’re going through the most painful times of your life. For example, I used to abandon myself when depression got the best of me by engaging in self-harming activities like cutting or even substance abuse because I hated myself and what I was going through. Instead of being there for myself, I did the complete opposite and made myself more and more miserable. When I needed comfort or assurance, I used to bash myself and blamed myself for everything. When I needed to validate myself and what I was feeling, I turned to alcohol or drugs. As you can guess, none of that helped. Some of us grow up not knowing how to be there for ourselves, and that is completely okay. But we must understand and start learning to truly be there for ourselves especially if you have mental illnesses. Being there for yourself means to validate your feelings and experiences, be compassionate towards yourself, and commit to doing whatever it takes to take great care of yourself. I personally believe that if you can master this you can overcome anything in life. Everything starts with ourselves.

How to cope with mental illnesses

Conclusion


Although there are more ways you can try to cope with mental illnesses, these are some big ones I’ve found very helpful. As always, I would like to encourage you to always use your best judgment and trust yourself in the process when taking on advices because it is truly up to you to find a way that works specifically for you.

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Comments

  1. Good Info Here!! My brother in laws brother unfortunately didn’t get info like this in time . Thanks

    1. Keith,

      Thank you for checking out my article and I’m glad you find it helpful. I am so sorry to hear about your brother in law though, Please pass this info to anyone you might know who is struggling with mental illness.

  2. Suzie

    Mental illness is becoming more and more prominent in our society. I don’t know if it’s due to brave people like you, who are being more upfront about having a mental illness, or if it is due to the increasing pressures in society.

    Unfortunately, mental illness still has a stigma about it so that many people suffer in silence which usually doesn’t end well for them or their families.

    As you mentioned in this post, it is very important to talk about mental illness issues with other people who are experiencing it. Because they are the only ones that know and can relate to what you are going through.

    I hope that this post reaches out and helps many other people to realize that they are not alone and that they don’t have to suffer in silence.

    1. Suzie,

      Thank you so much for your comment. I do notice and wonder what is causing the increase in people experiencing depression and other mental illness. I worked in a medical field and I can honestly say that 80% or more people have all had depression at some point in their life and was treated with medication. It is almost an epidemic and I really wish there was a magic pill for this so that they don’t need to suffer so much.

  3. Brandon

    Hey Blue, I think this is a great article with lots of information. I know for a fact so many people try to cope with mental illness by medicating themselves. And it never helps the problem or makes the situation any better, ONLY for that moment in present time. Great stuff, sharing now!

    1. Brandon,

      You’re right about that. So many people do that and sometimes they do it so much that they will almost be in denial about the fact that they actually have something serious going on, such as chronic depression. It is not only ineffective to constantly distract oneself by self-medicating but it is also very dangerous at times. Thanks for sharing this article. I hope this article helps even just one more person 🙂

  4. Marvin

    Well written article Blue, my wife has a friend that is going through this at the moment and I will definitely pass it on

    1. Marvin,

      Thanks for reading my article and sharing this with your wife’s friend. I really hope she finds some insight that help her deal with her symptoms. If there is anything I can do or answer, please let me know 🙂

  5. Mindfulness is so important. I use daily affirmations to help me. Thanks for writing this article. The more people who write about mental illness, the better.

    1. Alicia,

      Daily affirmations are powerful. The fact that you are doing that daily and not just whenever you feel like it really makes the practice effective. Please keep up the good work in caring for your mind and soul 🙂

  6. Lane Onson

    Thank you so much for this article. The main section that you listed was to find support. I appreciate that. I can’t tell you how much friends and loved ones can fail at being a support. Truthfully, they may not know how. However, I hated the ‘you’ll be ok’ statement. I mean like, “How do you know that I’ll be ok?”

    As a depression sufferer, I know what it’s like to struggle and not feel that you have a friend on your side. This is truth a nice piece.

    1. Lane,

      I feel you on that 100%. It is very painful to feel the disconnect and lack of support from the closest people in your circle. The level of despair we feel with depression is indescribable. That is why it really helps to find another person who truly understands what we are going through so that we both can support each other through this storm. Thanks for taking the time to read my article 🙂

  7. Hi Blue,

    Great article. You made some excellent points, particularly the one about not identifying with the illness. I currently deal with a lot of people suffering from mental illness through work and one major thing I’ve realized is that far too many of them try to live up to the diagnosis they were given. Not saying they don’t have the specific illness but they identify with it so strongly they think it will be them forever. I think it holds a lot of people back from making real progress. You also have some great suggestions. Thank you!

    1. Dan,

      Yes, I believe most people do it almost subconsciously but do not realize how powerful that one belief can be. A simple realization that we are in fact bigger and more than our diagnosis can really give us some light and hope that we need. Thanks for taking the time to read my article. I’m glad you found it helpful 🙂

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