In my last blog post, I discussed how I’m trying to swim through life with multiple mental illnesses but I can’t even float. It feels like I’m sinking with nothing to stop me but me.
Like I said, I was never the competitive type. And so, I pretend everything is okay. In reality, I’m drowning. I think I’ve always felt different. Even as a little girl, I had these weird insecurities. As I got older, they stayed by my side but everything seemed to escalate. I think though, it has to get worse before it can get better.
But that doesn’t make the journey any easier. The thing is, you’re not in this by yourself. Recovery really is a team effort. I mean there’s this quote that says that when you replace “I” with “We” even illness becomes wellness —and it’s true AF.
Someone with a mental disorder can minimize the effects of their illness and promote recovery. It normally involves taking medication, going to psychological therapy, implementing a concrete strategy, and people with the illness helping themselves.
So if you’re like me, you want to feel normal but maybe you just don’t know how? Well, here are three mental health treatment options that can bring you back to the person you were always meant to be.
Although there’s no quick fix, there are medications that can significantly improve how you feel, therefore improving how you carry yourself. The Mayo Clinic says that psychiatric medications can also help make other treatments, such as psychotherapy, more effective. The best medications for you will depend on your particular situation and how your body responds to the specific medication prescribed.
Here are a few examples (thanks to the Mayo Clinic):
- Antidepressants are used to treat depression, anxiety and sometimes other chronic pain conditions. They can improve symptoms such as sadness, hopelessness, lack of energy, difficulty concentrating and lack of interest in activities. Antidepressants are not considered addictive.
- Anti-anxiety medications are used to treat anxiety disorders that further reduce agitation and insomnia. Unfortunately, they have the potential to cause dependency, so ideally they should only be used short-term.
- Mood-stabilizing medications are most commonly employed to treat bipolar disorders, which involves alternating episodes of mania and depression. Sometimes mood stabilizers are used in conjunction with antidepressants to treat that sadness that seems to never go away.
- Antipsychotic medications are typically prescribed to treat psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia. Antipsychotic medications may also be used to treat bipolar disorders or used with other antidepressants to treat depression.
Now, medication won’t outright cure your mental illness. However, it can help you manage your symptoms. Medication paired with psychotherapy is the most effective way to promote recovery.
Let’s Taco Bout It
Isn’t talking the best? Talking and listening to those around us can actually improve your mood while building relationships and self-esteem. Especially in this digital era, we find ourselves in, talking is how you bond with those around you. But there’s more.
When my parents got divorced around my 16th birthday, my mom made me see a therapist. At first, I didn’t understand how talking would actually help me heal. However, by the end of my 6th session, I saw the light.
Talking about my condition and related issues with a mental health professional allowed me to learn more about myself, my moods, feelings, thoughts, and behavior. With the insights and knowledge I gained, I learned how to cope. And although I no longer see that therapist, I talk about my feelings on the regular (not in an annoying way though; I swear lol).
So if I’m having a bad day, I say so. If I’m severely drowning in those self-destructive thoughts, I say so. And even if I have nothing to say, I’ll tell someone why.
Even if you know your triggers, sometimes, you can’t help but be triggered. Even if you see or feel it growing, sometimes, you can’t stop those emotions from coming up. You try to shove them down but you feel this heat cultivating inside.
As a victim of sexual assault, I have a weird thing with people touching or grabbing things on or near my person (me). So when a friend of mine grabs something on my lap without even asking, I was triggered.
I didn’t want to be but like I said, more times than not, it’s simply out of our control.
So I walk away. You don’t have to suffocate yourself. If you’re feeling uncomfortable, leave. I shut the door, go into the bathroom and stare at myself in the mirror. I literally say out loud, something like, “Why am I feeling this way?”
I didn’t have an answer. Instead, I do some deep breathing exercises as I continue to gaze at my reflection. I look away from the mirror, turn the sink on, and wash my face. I can breathe. I start to remember what I learned in therapy. And so, I reflect.
I realize I was triggered. And when you know what it is that’s causing all of this internal negativity, you’ll feel relief. So I talk to myself a little longer and get the courage to go back downstairs. And you know what happened? That same friend did the same thing a few hours later. But this time, I was prepared. Instead of staying silent, I literally asked him not to do that because it triggers me. And you know what he said back? I get it.
He said sorry and I knew he meant it. The thing is, if you don’t speak up, how can someone know they hurt you? We got to talking and turns out, he has mental health challenges too. And that’s the beauty of this world. We’re all going through different situations based on our circumstances and childhood traumas. But the feelings we all feel remain the same.
At the end of the day, a struggle is a struggle. And yes, our pain hurts like hell and most of the time it makes no sense, but are you alone in this thing? Absolutely not. Freeing yourself from the dust from your past can be exhausting. Who knew it could be so heavy? At the same time, who knew fresh air would be so exhilarating?
So yeah, I still have nightmares. I still wake up in the middle of the night sweating from a bad dream. Yes, I still get triggered and more times than not, I’m scared as hell. But I’ve learned that medicating, talking and reflecting can really bring you freedom.
Because sometimes, even when we’re afraid of everything, we really can do anything exactly like everyone else —just keep swimming.