There are times when I just get sick of listening to myself complain about my situation and in my case complaining about my mental illness!
I have an eating disorder, suffer from panic attacks, lack social confidence and suffer from a high level of constant anxiety, all of which are niftily hidden within my over-confident persona that I portray to the world!
BUT I also have my health, a loving partner, a roof over my head, clean water, and a nomadic lifestyle some only dream of living….
If you have not heard of Stephen Fry, please do take the time to learn about this extraordinarily interesting man. Funny, smart and incredibly British, he has been plagued with his own mental health issues.
I find his quotes inspiring and his openness about his illness refreshing! He inspired me to look at my mental illness in another way – What positives can I grab from my mental illness?
Inside my Mental Illness!
Mental illness gives you this wonderful insight into how the human brain works.
I have a thirst to learn and try to understand things, so naturally, I wanted to learn about my mental illness and why mine and other people’s minds are affected by this invisible force. NO – Invisible and destructive force.
I feel like I have been given this mental illness for a reason, I have been pushed down a path of self-reflection, a road of self-discovery, healing and opening my mind to scenarios most people have no idea exist.
I feel like Dorothy on the yellow brick road, with courage, fear, and bravery by my side – we are all holding hands and facing the witch of anxiety together. YES. My anxiety wears striped socks too!
Humor has carried me this far, I have had to laugh at myself, sometimes as a coping mechanism, if I did not laugh I would cry, shout or smash a cup or two?!
Let’s be clear, I don’t want sympathy or pity!
At first, I did want sympathy, pity and any attention possible, I craved to be noticed, listened to and for someone to take control and fix me. I then realized this solves nothing and only feeds your anxiety further….this is shit you have to deal with yourself!
My mental illness has given me the ability to look at myself, look at the world and look at what is important.
You sometimes need the wind sucked out of your sails to really notice what is important in your life. Mental illness is not to be taken lightly BUT for me, I will use it to make me stronger and to make other people sit up and take notice.
Mental illness is not a weakness, it is not an excuse for being sad, you cannot just snap out of it BUT it is also not a life sentence or something that has to be accepted.
The good the bad and the benefits!
This is what my mental illness has given me! Not all good, but not all bad!
Self-reflection – I have looked within myself and got to know who I really am and although I have not always liked what I discovered, I am true to myself. If I am 20% bitch but 80% awesome generous person – then so be it. I NEED TO GET OVER IT.
Lie Detector – When you look at yourself you also learn to really look at other people. NOW not always a good thing as being judgemental can fall into this, BUT you all of a sudden know when you are being taken advantage of or when someone is not always out for your intentions.
Grateful – Strangely living with a mental illness makes you really grateful for things, this is more relevant on the days when you are having a ‘good day’. You suddenly appreciate the people around you, the flowers, the seasons and birds singing. Your good days are really good days.
Meditation – I am so happy to have found meditation. Although a huge trend at the moment, meditation has been around for 1000’s of years. I have found it calms my busy anxious mind and encourages me to think of others and how I may be able to help them. Thinking of others can really help to make you feel better.
Energy – A strange benefit! I often find on anxious days I have enough energy to get a multitude of tasks done. Anything from housework, paperwork or simply writing another chapter of my book. Anxiety can be awful, but I am learning to channel the energy it gives me – Oh and stay away from caffeine!!
Community – Since the day I admitted and shared my mental illness with family, friends and across social media I have felt comforted by just how many people suffer from some form of mental illness too. People, I know suddenly felt able to share their stories and make me feel like I am not alone.
Zest for Life – The dark days are still dark but when they pass the other days are full of optimism and a renewed zest for life. It’s like my brain wants to make up for the self-loathing and depressive days by giving me fresh ideas and inspiration for writing and a general zest for life.
Appreciating loved ones – Time to get soppy! You really get to see who is prepared to stay by your side and support you. The people that put up with anger, crying, depression and general moodiness are my true heroes and my mental illness has given me that insight and appreciation.
Creativity – I have learned how being creative can help channel my anxiety. Writing, blogging, and recipe development have all come about through my mental illness. Creativity helps me channel anger, depression, and frustration.
Mental illness can be debilitating and take you to the depths of despair, but it can also bring out this renewed zest of life, it can open your mind to things other people do not have to think about and it can lead you to discover you are way stronger than you ever imagined.