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3 Ways To Conquer A Life Invaded By Mental Illness

3 Ways To Conquer A Life Invaded By Mental Illness

One morning, ten years ago, I woke up and couldn’t move. I thought I was dying. Of course, I wasn’t, but ever since that morning, I’ve been on a crazy journey, fighting mental illness (depression and social anxiety) the entire way.

I can’t say that it’s been an easy road; it hasn’t been easy or simple. But it’s been rewarding, and I hope my thoughts can help you if you suffer from mental illness. Many people struggle silently with depression at some point in their lives, yet most don’t talk about it because of the stigma which surrounds mental illness.

Here are a few steps that have helped me, and others, overcome the pain of dealing with a mental illness.

1. Accept the Fact that You Suffer

We’ve all heard that the first step is the hardest to take. The first step to overcoming mental illness is acceptance, and it’s viciously difficult.

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Society and marketing have taught us that we need to be perfect. If we aren’t perfect, we are failures. I don’t know about you, but I hate failing, so life was tough for a long time.

I was filled with shame because I suffered from depression, and I didn’t want to be seen as weak. So, I put on a brave face and increased my anxiety to a point where I couldn’t talk on the phone without vomiting.

It’s okay to not be perfect. And it’s okay to suffer from mental illness. Once you accept that, it will be far easier to move to the next step.

2. Accept It the Right Way–You Are Not a Victim

Ever since I’ve started writing and speaking about my experiences with overcoming depression, a flood of people, secretly suffering, have shared their stories with me.

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One problem, unfortunately, is that many of them accept depression in the wrong way. They feel stuck like a magnet to a fridge and think that they will be depressed forever. The good news: nothing could be further from the truth.

Depression isn’t a choice, but the way you handle depression is.

The victim mentality will keep you unhappy, and it could lead to a life of locking yourself in your room and hiding from the world, like I did at one point.

Happiness might try to elude those who suffer more than those who do not, but it’s worth the fight, and trust me, you will enjoy happiness on a higher level because you had to work to get there. And once you get there, you will be grateful for the tough times.

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Never quit on yourself, ever.

3. Come to Grips With Who You Are

A huge part of my recovery was coming to grips with who I am. I am an introvert with a sprinkle of extrovert qualities. We all crave to be the popular kids, and I did too. But unless you’re a loud kid, who is willing to experiment with life and enjoy being around a lot of people, then it can be tough.

I was–I am–a quiet guy. Being the life of the party was never in the cards for me. It’s just not who I am.

I learned a lot about myself during my recovery. I learned baseball doesn’t have to be my life, even if it was almost a career path at one point. Just because I was doesn’t mean I am.

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It may sound trivial, but baseball was a big delusion in my life. I played Division I, and my Junior College won the JUCO II World Series, and my JUCO inducted me into their Hall of Fame in 2010. Baseball was always a part of me. Whenever I came home to visit, everyone would ask me about baseball: How is baseball going? When are we going to see you on TV? Are you a big college coach yet?

Baseball defined me, and until I came to grips with the fact baseball isn’t who I am, it was tough to get over some of my mental struggles.

You are not defined by anything other than yourself. Be who you want to be and how you want to be it.

I’m a writer. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. It just took a while to come to terms with it.

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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