If you're unlucky like me, then you probably have some form of mental illness. My world has been flipped upside down since I was fifteen and we discovered my brain just wasn't working right. But, I have chosen to partner up with my brain and take care of my mental illness as if it was a broken wrist. Taking care of my mental health has taught me a few things.
1. It is a chemical imbalance causing you to feel this way.
You are not wrong for feeling outrageous or over excited or extremely depressed. It is literally chemical, do not think of it as you broke yourself.
2. You need to learn to adjust to your moods.
Some days you're not going to want to leave your bed, but you will have to. You need to learn to function while feeling so shitty.
3. Take a personal day if you need it.
This is so important, I can't stress it enough. Take a day off if you need it. Call into work sick. Email your teachers. When you have a mental illness and you just can't take it for one day, treat it like a cold and take some time off from your daily life to rehabilitate yourself.
4. Self care is the most important.
My therapist taught me that self-care is more important than anything. If I don't take care of myself who will? I am a twenty year old college student, my mom is no longer at my beck and call. She shouldn't have to be my primary care taker anymore. I need to step up for myself. Something as simple as taking your meds and painting your nails can make a world of difference.
5. Enjoy the little things.
This sounds pretty basic I know, but when you're depressed the little things are what can drag you out of it. And when you're manic you tend to overlook the little things. It's not always about the big picture ahead of you.
6. Phone a friend.
Make a friend who is literally a babbler or a therapist in training. Seriously, having someone to talk to in times of need makes all the difference. I wouldn't be as proactive in my mental health if it wasn't for my friends urging me to seek treatment.
7. The bad days end.
Every night the sun goes down and the moon comes up. Everyday will end. Bad days don't last forever so it's important to start each day with a positive mentality, even when you have to fake it.
8. Fake it till you make it.
You have to go to school or work or whatever your obligations are, you have to follow through with them. Sometimes you need to fake the smile or the calmness or shut yourself up from babbling too much. Some days you just need to put on a front because not everyone is going to be understanding. If you have a test but you're manic you have to appear calm and collected, you can't disrupt an entire room taking a test. If you're over stimulated sometimes you have to just ground yourself quietly and whisper to yourself about it. There is going to be times where you just can't reach out to someone to calm you down.
9. Find your inner peace.
Whether you want to call it your happy place, your mental safe zone, or whatever. You need to find your inner peace. You need to pull your demons to the surface and let it be known that you are in charge, not your illness and not your past. You need to come to terms with whatever it is holding you back, and take charge of it. Always remember you are your own boss.
10. Medication might be helpful.
Now before anyone gets up in arms about this- medication can work. From medical marijuana to mood stabilizers. It is important you get any form of medication from a licensed medical professional and not from your friends sketchy uncle with the "loud." Do. Not. Self. Medicate. If your doctor suggests medication it could be long or short term. Remember, it's a chemical imbalance not like a scraped knee, it won't just go away. You can view the medication like a Band-Aid, just there to add protection and help heal your wound, or you can view it as a life long friend who's going to keep you in check. It is totally your choice, but don't assume herbal supplements and vitamins are going to make your anxiety go away.
11. Make the best out of every day possible.
Seriously, carpe diem. Even if the best thing you can do for yourself today is shower. Or maybe go on a road trip. Everyday needs to be full of wins and victories instead of hopelessness and despair. Do what you can to make your life amazing every day. You will never repeat today, so you might as well make it worth remembering.
These are just a few life lessons I've taken away from battling bipolar disorder for the past five years. It's hard. Every day I wake up and meet a new challenge no matter how big or small. Today's challenge was taking my car to the mechanic. Tomorrow may be a different story. Big or small, black or white, gay or straight, male or female, mental illness will fight you. Be ready for it.