- May 11, 2017
- Posted by: Dr. Elise Cohen Ho
- Category: Health & Wellness
A huge thank you goes out to Andolina of Lessons of A Student Mom for sharing so honestly about her struggles with mental illness and how she can use this struggle to help others.
How I’ve Learned to Live with My Mental Illness
Mental illness affects everyone differently.
You and I could have the same diagnoses and still deal with different symptoms. Part of the stigma surrounding mental illness is that there is no biological testing involved in the diagnosis process. Some may not see it as an actual illness because it “doesn’t show” any physical symptoms. Although I would have to disagree. My symptoms can be very physical at times.
For instance, when I am having a day where my anxiety is flaring, my physical symptoms include nausea, shaking or trembling and a cringe in my neck. It can even trigger my migraines. As far as my depression goes, on a really bad day, I have an extreme fatigue and little to no appetite (and for someone who can only manage to eat once daily, this is a major factor). It can feel as though my limbs weigh hundreds of pounds each.
Why am I sharing all of this with you?
Because I am not afraid of my illness any longer.
Do I have a fear in the back of my mind that my mental illness could get worse? Yes, I do but I no longer let it destroy my life.
I know how to battle my symptoms and I know that I am doing everything I can to feel better. Medication cannot be the only treatment regimen, especially for someone who comes from a difficult childhood. Part of the process must involve some form of counseling or therapy.
If you continue to hold the emotions in and only relive the memories alone you are hurting yourself.
There are people who have chosen helping others through their internal battles as their life’s passion.
I am one of those people.
It may sound crazy to some that someone who is “mentally ill,” although I wouldn’t classify myself as that, could possibly treat and be useful to others. We can be more useful to people battling the battles we face because we are in the forefront of the war.
We have the scars to prove that we know what it is like, and we are living proof that those battles can be won.
Personally, I wouldn’t want a counselor who doesn’t have the depth of understanding on mental illness as I have.
I have been to the bottom with no light in sight, I have wanted my life to end, and I have wished for days on end that something would happen to relieve me of all my pain. But today, as I sit here and write this, I am so grateful that I am still sitting here. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be able to spread knowledge and hope to others who are battling mental illness on a day to day basis.
You may be wondering how I have overcome such dark days. I haven’t, they are still a part of my life, but I know how to push through them better. Exercise has become a big part of my treatment.
Exercise has amazing benefits for your mental health, and it also allows your mind to rest as you focus on your body.
But on top of that, I take my medication as prescribed and report to my therapist when it isn’t doing its job. I also go to my regular counseling sessions, even if it seems that I’ve had a good week.
We shouldn’t be afraid of sharing our feelings, someone out there cares how we feel, I promise you that.
We all need to feel loved, and you may not realize it but there is at least one person who loves every one of us. Sometimes we just have to take the blinders off and look around.
The person who always says, “Are you okay?” What about that friend who checks up on you when they haven’t heard from you in a while? Even that person who always tries to get you to try new things, they want you to experience new things, to see new sights, because they love you.
What I ask of you, dear reader, because you took the time to read these thoughts of mine, is to share this story.
You never know if it may reach someone who needed to hear that there is light somewhere, they just have to give it a chance to find them. Help me erase the stigma so that we all can get the help that we deserve. Illness isn’t always visible, and sometimes our mental pain is far greater than any physical pain we could imagine.
What is your story? Has mental illness touched your life? How about the life of those you love? Please talk to us in the comments below.