Am I being irrational? Do I have the right to think this way?
Am I crazy, or just human?
I have doubted myself so much, dissected the illness so much, that I don’t know up from down.
I often can’t discern whether I am mentally sick or just going through a tough life change like anyone else.
I don’t know if my depression is enough to see a doctor— I don’t want to rely on doctors and medication to solve all of my problems. Self-growth, struggle, and pain is a part of life, and I am inclined to try to walk through them instead of automatically seeking medical help.
Bipolar’s direct relationship with emotion and the inability to handle some of life’s issues make it difficult to discern what is normal and abnormal.
Mental Health Defined
According to the World Health Organization, mental health can be defined as “a state of well being in which every individual realizes his or her potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”.
I am in the middle of that description.
I have a job, I’m an involved wife, aunt, sister, and daughter, and I am involved in volunteer leadership positions. That is, at face value, making a contribution in the community.
But how well am I making that contribution lately? I am going through the motions, yes. I am painfully aware that I am going through the motions. I am feebly contributing.
I am not at my best, but I am still here.
I know my potential, yet doubt often.
Working “productively and fruitfully”? I don’t think I would describe it as that.
I know I am depressed. I am trying to get through it.
I am tired of the game—revolving medications, asking for advice—they can’t change the way I feel about myself and my life.
No one can bring me peace but me.
What to do
I do know what it feels like to thrive.
I’m not thriving right now, and honestly don’t know how much is a need for medical interference and how much are hard times I need to get through.
I have experienced several major life changes in the past six months.
Life has been harder lately than it has been in a long time.
Because I suspect, in exploring and writing this article, that I am not mentally healthy, I would like to get back on track.
Stress from several life changes is normal. I have to be aware of how much the changes affect me negatively.
Soul searching has led me to believe that it starts with my choices. I need to remember my passions, what makes me happy and feel alive, and gravitate toward those things, eliminating the poison in my life.
I need to center myself.
How can I get back there?
Here are some tips I’ve collected:
1. Take Care of Yourself
Exercise, good nutrition, and general self-care are important, because body and mind are connected. They reciprocate. Self-care, including massage, hot or cold baths and showers, cup of tea—virtually any way you nurture yourself will have a positive effect. The catch is that it has to be regular and frequent.
2. Be Your Best Friend
Many people have asked me if I would talk to a friend the way I talk to myself. If I did, I don’t think that friend would be around for very long. Practice positive self-talk, and challenge your negative beliefs. Keep note of when you do well or accomplish something and remind yourself of those feats. It is simple—do not treat yourself in any way that you wouldn’t treat a friend or family member you deeply care about
3. Ask for Help, Reach Out, and stay Connected
First, talking about your feelings with someone you trust can help take some weight off your shoulders. Having a connection with others can make you feel less alone, and engaging in connections with those that you love can have a positive impact on mental health. Expressing when you need help or don’t feel well can help get you back to mental health if you are ill. Others may even recognize when you are slipping
4. Be Yourself
This is one of the biggest things I am working on—connect or reconnect with what you really enjoy doing. If you aren’t spending time doing what makes you feel alive, burn out becomes inevitable.
How do you know when you are in “good mental health?”