Good Friends are Good for your Mental Health

friends - blog .png

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.




No Action is Still an Action

no action blog post .png

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

forgiveness-blog.png

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.


Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone, But How?

IMG_6272 (1).jpg

How Many Times have you heard someone say that?  

Just step outside of your comfort zone, and you thought to yourself, that sounds great and all but how do I do that? I can tell you that I have been one of those people who had that very same response.  Gurus and coaches all tell you that stepping outside of your comfort zone is a step in the direction towards “living your best life” ! Another term that sounds great but actually confused the hell out of me when I first heard it.  


As you may or may not know, I have been on my mental health journey, for 2 years now.  

This journey for me has doubled as a self-awareness and self-discovery journey. It has been filled with ups, downs, highs, and lows.  I have learned so much about myself, and this is literally one journey that I would never want to change. It has been life changing. I had to go through a journey of self-awareness to discover what my hopes, dreams and desires.  This allowed me to discover my comfort zone and the area just beyond that region. That area is where all of the magical things would happen, That is what I had heard so many times before and now it was time to start testing this theory out.


I was, for so many years accustomed to doing with friends or family.  

If I wanted to go to an event or restaurant, I would see who I could get to go along with me to make my experience more enjoyable (so I thought) and definitely more comfortable.  It was almost unheard of to go anywhere alone. It was just something that I had never really done. I mean, I would of course go to work alone, but that was about it. I truly let others dictate my flow and my enjoyment.  If I didn’t have a buddy to roll with, I guess I was not going.


About a month ago I heard about a Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibit that was taking place in NYC that I really wanted to see.

 I asked my friends if they wanted to go and of course they agreed. Here was the problem, the show was sold out until the end of the exhibit.  But, I decided on a whim that I was going to get on the waitlist to see if I could get a ticket to the show. I figured that it was a long shot and that it probably was not going to happen.  Well, guess what, it happened! I got a wait list ticket email at 11pm last Thursday night for Friday afternoon. I didn’t realize this until Friday morning but I was in! I was excited and anxious and this was totally out of my comfort zone.  


Needless to say, I had a really great time.  

Once I got to the gallery, the anxiety had subsided.  I learned something about comfort zones on this trip to the city.  When you allow yourself to stay within comfort zones, people can unintentionally control you and your destiny.  So it is so important to be mindful of what it is that you want at all times. It is okay if your wants and dreams change, but the most important thing is that you are in control.  You are in control.


How important is dealing with past issues in order to maintain your illness ?

blog post b&w.png

Well if you ask me I say it is very very important.  

Let me explain why I think this is the case. When I made the decision to begin my mental health recovery journey, I did not know that I would be simultaneously starting my self-awareness and self-discovery journey as well.  Making this decision was one of the best decisions and investments that I could have ever made for myself.


When I started to see my see my therapist, she would ask me things about my past, my parents, and about old relationships.

 I would think to myself, “Why is she asking me this?, this doesn’t have anything to do with being bipolar?” She would ask me to talk about my mother, and her passing (which is my total weak spot).  I would find myself with a face full of tears and a handful of kleenex.


I felt like it was totally pointless to talk about my past relationships and my childhood…..

when all I wanted to talk about was how to fix myself and my anxiety and my bipolar disorder.  What I did not realize was that talking about my past and where I had been would help with where I was going and what my future would be like. Looking at the past and the experiences that I had would allow me to discover who I was as a person, these were all very important things that I needed to evaluate on this journey of mental health recovery and even more important on my journey of self-awareness.  Who I was as a person played a part in how I responded to my illness and my symptoms, and all of this information would allow me to be more informed and educated when taking care of myself in the present and the future.