Moving Towards Mental Wellness – 4 Small Steps
We hear so much about mental illness in the media and from people that are suffering from it themselves, including yours truly. I embrace this growing trend of owning your flaws and imperfections: I feel this openness and vulnerability is a good thing because it breaks down the
stigma associated with mental illness. Erasing that negative thought process and fear when it comes to mental illness allows us to reach out to others as well as seek treatment for ourselves. In fact, it is this reaching out that is essential for completing the journey from mental illness to mental wellness. Something you can read more about below.
Admitting You’re Not OK
It’s all too easy for a great majority of us to respond to the question: “How are you doing?” with “fine, OK, or cool thanks,” even when we feel very far away from this. I’m the worst at putting on a really good “fake it face” and saying “I’m fine” or “it’s nothing”. Don’t get me wrong, it’s incredibly hard to show vulnerability and admit to those you want respect and approval from that you are struggling; it can be a truly scary thing! The whole “what if they think less of me” or “what if they now think me incapable of my responsibilities?” starts swirling around in your mind, thus making the entire mental situation worse!
However, when you do start to acknowledge you aren’t feeling 100% and there is something wrong, you are creating a space for things to start getting better. After all, you cannot fix a problem when you deny its very existence. That is why it’s OK to admit you’re not OK, to yourself and to a trusted friend, colleague, professional, or family member as it is often the first step on the road to recovery.
Finding the Problem
Next, once you have admitted something is wrong, it can be useful to do a little soul searching to see what exactly the problem is. Is it a situational thing: meaning can it be fixed by fixing the situation or removing yourself from it? It is your job (coworkers, amount of work, your boss, etc) and can you fix that by talking to someone there or searching for another job? Is it a relationship: are you being treated badly, do they not see your worth, do they take you for granted, or is it the lack of a relationship? Sometimes finding this perspective shines some light on how you can crawl out of that hole you’ve find yourself in and some possible solutions. Maybe – it’s about saying the word NO – enough is enough or some barriers need to be put into place. Maybe it’s about saying YES to new opportunities.
Some folks may know this quickly and instantly, especially those with addictions, or other conditions with physical manifestations. However, for some of us identifying what is causing us to be mentally unwell may take more work, something it can be useful to seek help for a therapist to uncover and address in a safe, non-threatening environment.
Once we have admitted there is a problem and gone some way to identifying what the issue is we are in a much better position to seek treatment. With my patients, it’s key to assess whether or not they’re ready for education, whether they’ve accepted their new state of being (like diabetes for example) and being in an open position to start learning how to care for their diabetes (insulin administration, diet, etc). The same concept applies to seeking mental health treatment – you have to be emotionally and mentally ready to start making your life better and to accept/process the advice being given to you.
Treatment is, of course, different depending on the problem you are addressing. Some mental health issues like this alcohol detox timeline require a lengthy detox and rehabilitation process – to safely deliver the patient to a path of wellness under professional supervision. It is possible, however, to treat other mental health diseases like anxiety and depression on an outpatient basis with weekly therapy sessions and homework activities to strengthen our ability to cope better with the issues that are bothering us. Getting in the habit of incorporating therapy into your weekly routine may be different at first, but soon will start to fall into step with everything else going on in your life.
Learning to cope
It’s important to remember that the aim of going to therapy is to allow you to cope with the discomfort of your problem in a much more healthy and adaptive way: making communication the essential building block.
It is these coping skills that make it easier for us to choose how we behave rather than let our disorders and addictions choose for us. Something that can, in turn, help us move towards mental wellness and the life that we truly want, while also minimizing the control that our problems have over us. So let’s look in the mirror, pinpoint our weakness, and grasp that step towards being in control of your own life!
March 16, 2018 @ 3:08 pm
I think the best thing I ever did for myself was talk to my doctor about my anxiety. We live in a tough world and we have to deal with a lot of problems. It’s ok to ask for help!
Christina | From Under a Palm Tree
March 16, 2018 @ 4:05 pm
Posts like this are so important. There are so many people out there suffering from mental illness and they might have no idea because people don’t talk about it in a realistic sense. And it’s not just mental illness just mental issues that when addresses can get so much better. Just understanding that you’re going through something and you’re not crazy or alone can make all the difference too.
March 16, 2018 @ 5:32 pm
Every one should read this. I quietly suffered from post partum depression and if I had sought help sooner rather than later, things could’ve gotten better so much faster.
March 16, 2018 @ 6:16 pm
I love that it is ‘about time’ this subject makes it’s way to the forefront. I love that people like you are putting aside any uneasy feelings that you may have about the world knowing you have, however slight, a mental health issue. Some one breaks a leg they yell “Hey, my leg hurts, I need to see the dr.” but, when someone has a panic attack, severe depression or feels like they want out of their life they second guess themselves due to the stigma. That stigma is being cracked and peeled away thanks to people just like yourself and all the others that step up and say “yes, I have a mental health issue and???”
March 16, 2018 @ 6:51 pm
ahh Gladys this comment just made my day! I agree wholeheartedly – it’s another part of taking care of ourselves, just as much as a broken bone, cut, or scrape.
March 16, 2018 @ 7:30 pm
Not only knowing you have a problem is a big step. But also seeking help is huge and very important!
March 16, 2018 @ 8:44 pm
I agree it can be so hard sometimes to admit you have issues like anxiety but thank goodness it’s becoming more believable & accepted so more people hopefully will be more likely to reach out for help
March 17, 2018 @ 12:11 am
Good information you posted. Lots of insight.
Nicola @ Happy Healthy Motivated
March 17, 2018 @ 2:57 am
You’re so right – actually admitting to yourself and others that everything is not fine is so important, yet it’s so difficult to actually do! Love all this helpful advice. It’s great reading stuff like this online – really shows people that they’re not alone!
March 17, 2018 @ 2:21 pm
Oh how much I needed this today! Saying no is my biggest struggle and not doing so always sends me into a downward spiral. Fortunately, I’ve bee slowly working on it.
March 17, 2018 @ 2:32 pm
I have had the hardest time admitting that I am not ok. It was admitting weakness, but it is amazing once I did that it got better.
March 17, 2018 @ 11:54 pm
YES TO ALL. I just went through all of this. Accepting that I wasn’t okay was the hardest part.
March 18, 2018 @ 1:32 am
This is so amazing post, you are doing great job raising awareness. It is so important to know the problem and to admit it to self, then only one can look forward to getting help and feel positive about it.
March 18, 2018 @ 8:31 am
It is really brave of you to put your feelings out to the world like this. Mental Health has been a stigma for so long it is great to see people speaking out. Posts like this will definitely help other people feel like they aren’t alone with their thoughts and encourage them to seek help too.
March 18, 2018 @ 7:37 pm
I’d say most people fail at the “finding the problem” part and thus leads to wrong solutions and results. That’s the most important part, people! Believe me, I’m mostly a victim of my own mistakes.
March 18, 2018 @ 8:24 pm
I like that there are so many more conversations surrounding mental health than there once were. I think it is important to stop stigmatizing mental health. I am SO pro-therapy and think pretty much everyone can benefit from it.
Robin @ And Then We Tried
March 18, 2018 @ 8:50 pm
I like that you broke it down into small, manageable steps to move forward. More conversations like this need to be happening. Kudos!
March 18, 2018 @ 9:13 pm
This is a great post, thanks for sharing! Everyone should read this post because mental wellness is so important.
Cameron - Diary of a Southern Millennial
March 19, 2018 @ 12:18 am
Such a great post on such an important issue. Mental illness definitely shouldn’t be stigmatized, especially knowing so many people who suffer from things like anxiety and depression. Realizing there is an issue is so important, and taking the step to get help even more so. So glad someone wrote about this!
March 19, 2018 @ 10:22 am
I love this post, it’s so incredibly important to seek help when you need it and know that it isn’t bad to do!
March 19, 2018 @ 1:21 pm
Thank you for spreading awareness on this! There are so many people suffering from mental illness (including a few people I know!) and many think it’s them just have a bad day/week/month because people don’t openly talk about it.
March 19, 2018 @ 1:46 pm
It feels like more and more bloggers are talking about their mental health these days – which is great, as it’s certainly lifting the taboo around the subject 🙂 x
Christina @ Hugs and Lattes
March 19, 2018 @ 1:53 pm
I think everyone in the world needs to see a counselor every now and then. I love going for maintenance counseling because it helps me release anything I may not be aware of.
March 19, 2018 @ 9:00 pm
The hardest thing for me was admitting my problems to both myself and others. It feels so good to be honest with yourself- denying things only makes everything worse!
March 20, 2018 @ 10:26 am
I’m glad you posted about this today! I am always afraid to admit out loud that I have anxiety but when I am honest about it, I feel a lot better!
March 20, 2018 @ 7:24 pm
It’s so hard to admit you are not OK even when you are only going through a phase…. I am so glad you wrote this post.
Monica || Daydreaming of Disney Blog
March 21, 2018 @ 12:35 am
I definitely agree. People need to feel safe enough to be able to talk about their mental health and seek help if needed. We definitely need to lift the stigma of speaking about mental health.