"Becoming Your Best Self With Mental Illness"
By Sow Ay
"Becoming Your Best Self With Mental Illness"
What does that mean?
Actually, I don't know. I won't tell you how to be a better human, to play sports, to have a great morning routine, or to eat healthy food, because you've already read that everywhere. And you're probably sick of it. I am too.
I don't even know if I am my best self. There's a lot more I wish I could do. But everyone wishes that, right? All I know is that I try hard every day despite mental illness; despite the mental ghost that tries every day to take control of my life.
Mental illness should not stop us from reaching or trying to reach our goals. Some days, it feels impossible to go on. It slows us down. But that's not your or my fault. No, it's not because we're weak. It's not just in our head. That's the illness. That's the mental ghost. It's not us. And that’s okay. We need to accept that. I know it's hard to accept; it took me years. I refused to accept it. But I finally did.
If you need help, please do not stay alone. The biggest enemy is silence. Have someone to support you. A friend, family member, a therapist, online communities... You're never truly alone even if you think you are. People care about you. I care about you since you're here. You chose to read me, and that means there's some sort of connection between us.
I don't know what I intend to do with this post. Maybe to give you some hope and motivation? That'd be great.
"Okay, I have accepted that I'm haunted by a mental ghost, now what?"
Well, try to do things. I know that sounds cliché but the first daily victory is to get out of bed. Now, the other victories are up to you!
Let's forget work here.
I spend my days drawing, listening to music, and playing drums. Because that's what I love. During that time, the mental ghost is more quiet. But it doesn't work every day. Some days, I just cannot do it. And that's okay; I will try again tomorrow.
I really hope you will find something that works for you. There must be something you like doing. Reading, drawing, writing, cooking, gardening, Netflixing,... There's so much to do.
Sometimes, it's hard to start. We don't feel motivated. But once you've started, it's easier, so you can try to force yourself to do something for 5-10 minutes. I believe you can do these 5-10 minutes. Like when you start watching an episode or start reading the chapter of a book. You started so you don't want to stop in the middle of an episode or a chapter and it's not as bad as your motivation made you think.
If you know I'm rooting for you, does it help? If that doesn't work, there's plenty of other things to do.
After you did that and it became easier to do, you can try with harder things ! Getting out to buy some food, going to the cinema (I go when there are no people, in the morning), having a drink with friends,...
Suddenly, during the day, something awful comes. OH NO! An event. An invitation to a birthday party, the announcement of a concert, my mom asking me to go to the cinema with her...
When an event comes, ask yourself, "Do I wanna go?" If not, say no. Or imagine an excuse if you don't dare saying no. (I'm so bad at giving advice.) Just don't force yourself to do things you don't want to.
I know; it's super hard to say no. I went to tons of events I hated too. But you know what? People are way more understanding than you imagine! I recently dared saying no and friends or family were actually understanding! They didn't hate me for it! Woah, that was such a relief!
Sometimes, I don't know if I want to go. Do I want to? Is that the panic that wants to prevent me from going? GAAAA, I DON'T KNOOOW…
It often happens to me when I'm asked to go out or when I'm asked to work or join a new project. Like joining a new rock band.
As a friend suggested, I write down the good and bad reasons to go/not go. Often the good reasons win. So I feel better about going there, even if it's hard. Yeah!! I'll try to join that rock band!! Even if I think I suck and I’m scared and I’ll have panic attacks! Like the little tasks and victories, it'll be super hard for the first few days but will become easier with time.
That's how I went to concerts, cinema or exhibitions after weeks of huge panic, closed up at home in my bed. The anticipatory panic is awful. I kept asking myself silly questions:
"Will I be able to park there?"
"Will there be a lot of people?"
"What if I get sick there?"
It wasn't easy to go; I spent a day throwing up because my panic didn't want me to go see Linkin Park. But I did. I mean, I couldn’t miss Linkin Park, even if I had to drive 5 hours to get there. I took bags in case I wanted to throw up but I made it!! I also spent an exhibition of mine hugely sick because of the panic and had to leave. But I went there. And these are huge victories. These trophies are bigger than the "got out of bed" one.
I think this is how I can say I'm trying to be my best self. I collect trophies.
And I hope you'll get plenty of them! You already have one, remember?
And you just got another one by reading this
Edits: Rey, and Sarah H
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