Good Friends are Good for your Mental Health

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The title of this post seems like it is a no brainer.  

Of course you should have friends that are good for your mental health.  But, this one consideration can be overlooked as you are navigating your way through life and trying to manage your illness, and the ups and downs of everyday life.  I have never been a person with an overflow of friends. I am an introvert, and I am more interested in quality over quantity. I have to say I love my friends, they are great but as I have been on my mental health journey, I did not realize how important they are!  Before I was actually diagnosed I would have my periods of being MIA, I would brush off plans and do other things that are consistent with a person who is in crisis. For years it was like this and frankly, I seemed like a big ole flake. I mean looking back at some of the stuff that I had done, I would think that I was a flake also.  

One of the turning points for me in my interactions with my friends was my willingness and level of comfort with sharing my diagnosis with them.  

I had to get to a point where I was comfortable talking about it to the people in my life. That took some time. Once I let them in on what I was dealing with, my behaviors from the past suddenly had a reason for it.  It took some time to get to that point, I am glad that I finally got there.


Having friends in your life that know about my diagnosis and understands how I am affected by my illness has been a tremendous effect on my recovery.  

When I am with them, I feel normal, I feel like myself, and that is the time when I can really kick back, unwind, and enjoy myself. I need that. I think, that we all need people like that in our lives.  Having good friends who love, support, and accept you no matter what can make the difference in a recovery success story, and a recovery not so successful story.




Why Is Mental Health Awareness Month Important to me?

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As I have mentioned many times before,

I was diagnosed back in 2014 with bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.  It was so shocking and to be quite honest, it was quite surreal. I felt lost and did not know how or what I was going to do knowing that I had been diagnosed with such a serious condition.  I was at a loss of words. It took some years to become comfortable with the idea of having a mental health disorder. When I decided that I wanted to talk about my experiences and advocate for others like me, I know that I would be helping someone.  I just didn’t know who. I knew that there were other people out there like me in the world who had been diagnosed with a serious mental health condition and felt alone and unsure of themselves and what their life would now be because of it.


When I did research initially on bipolar disorder, I would see tons and tons of sad people who were crying and describing really grim realities of what it was like to live with a mental health disorder.  These images made me worry about what my future reality was going to be like.

Mental Health Awareness Month is so important to me,

because this is the month that is dedicated to talking about and spreading hope and good faith about mental illness.  Although mental health awareness for me is everyday, I am glad that there is a time that the world acknowledges mental health and are becoming more familiar with the topic and the cause.  There is such a long way to go of course, but this month for me instills a sense of pride. I can share all that I know and have experienced with others so that they can avoid some of the mistakes that I have made and also feel no shame about their illness.  While we have a long way to go, I am glad that we have May to spread the word and shatter the stigma that is so rampant.


No Action is Still an Action

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I never really understood what “No action is still an action” meant.

 It took awhile to figure out what that quote actually meant. I knew that I had a mental health condition for several years before I decided to actually take the steps to make my life and my mental health better.  I thought that by taking no action, my mental health would somehow magically get better. It didn’t dawn on me at that point that I was in control of my mental health and my mental health recovery. I thought that I was doomed  and accepted this fate that was less than I wanted and deserved. “No action is still an action” was actually the motto that I lived my life by when my mental health was not a top priority. I made a conscious effort over the years when I was not well not to make an action, and that is still an action.  

I have had so much time over the last 2 years that I have been in recovery to think about some of the situations that have occurred during the course of my journey.  

There were so many times when the idea of taking the steps to act scared me, and made me super uncomfortable, so in my mind, doing nothing was better for me and it kept me in my comfort zone.  

Believe it or not, we are in control even when it feels like the cards are stacked against us.  We have a choice, we can either take action or remain still. The thing about taking action is that it will bring you outside of your comfort zone.  Comfort zones can be a place of anxiety and uneasiness for me.


It’s Time to Forgive Yourself

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The ups and downs of dealing with a mental illness can be like riding on a roller coaster.  

The highs and lows can be very unpredictable. In the years before I was diagnosed, I had done some things that I was not proud of.  I would beat myself up and then never “let it go” or forgive myself for what I had done. This alone was exhausting to me. During a bout of mania that I had, I spent over $200k.  Yes, that’s right, $200k. Once the mental fog had subsided and I realized what I had actually done, I was so mortified. I would take it a step further and say that I was disgusted with myself.  How could I squander away so much money and not even realize what I had spent most of the money on.


Giving myself the benefit of the doubt was something that I had never been accustomed to doing.  

But when I looked at my situation more closely I had to show myself a little more compassion than I had done over the years.  I was a 24 year old young parent, who had just lost her parent and caregiver. I found myself in a very traumatic situation and had not dealt with my grief and loss at all.  To some on the outside, it looked like I was just out of control, but as I looked at my situation more and more there were definitely some signs that I needed help.

For the longest time,

I was unable to forgive myself and show myself any compassion because of the things that I had done. The money was the largest one for me. Little did I know that carrying around all of this frustration and anger with myself over this money that was long gone was not going to help me.  In fact it was going to be a large hindrance to me. It was. I had to let go. Letting go would be one of the steps that would lead me into the direction of awareness and recovery. It took a long time.  When I say a long time, I mean a really long time, but I was able to let go of it and forgive myself. I also take this experience as something that I can learn from and what’s better than that.