I started this blog almost a year ago as a tool to help me express my thoughts about my mental illness and to help others struggling with the same thing. A year ago, I was in a very different place in my life. I was going through a very dark place in my life, a place of depression and anxiety on top of an eating disorder. I was living in Wexford and I was out of work due to my mental illness.
Now, I am sitting in my own apartment in a new city, where I live with my partner, I am back to work and attending therapy every week.
This year has been an uphill struggle for me but through it all I learned a lot about myself as a person and can honestly say I am grateful for a few life-lessons my mental illness has taught me.
- Say What You Mean
One of the reasons I got so anxious is because I didn’t say what I actually need or want. Over the last year I have learned that it is so important to set personal boundaries. I had to learn how to say ‘no’ to things I really didn’t want to do, or to things that were taking a toll on my mental health. I have learned to say what I would prefer instead of just blindly following what other people are doing or doing what I think I ‘should’ be doing. I now do things because they make me happy.
- Learning to Love Yourself is a Lifelong Struggle
There are still days where I hate myself – where I think that the world would be better off without me. But then there are the days that I feel happy in my own skin…and those are the days that make everything worth it.
- Love Many and Trust Few
One thing my mental illness has taught me is that people will enter your life for different purposes at different stages in your life. It is important to remain open and receptive to people but you will only ever have a few people in your life that you can really trust, and those people will be constants. As well as that, people can surprise you. So try not to shut people out.
- Just Do You
In other words, always do what’s true to you. I have learned that the hard way. I am becoming more comfortable with who I am as a person. I used to pretend to be different people in order to fit in, but now I am becoming more interested in who I actually am. It’s exhausting acting how you think people want you to be. It saves so much more emotional energy when you just decide to let yourself just be you.
- Forgive Yourself
This is the one I still struggle with hugely. I have always been very hard on myself and would beat myself up for anything I did ‘wrong’ or that I could have done better. But I am trying not to be so hard on myself. I am trying to forgive myself and have self-compassion. Because self-compassion leads to building self-esteem. And building self-esteem is crucial to live a functional and productive life.
If I’m being honest (and I am) I will say that I still struggle with depression and anxiety. I have bad days and good days. But I am learning to accept that although that is a part of me, it does not define me.
There are many other lessons I have learned throughout the last year but these are the ones that I still struggle with and the ones that have made the biggest difference to my life.
As always, please refer to my ‘Where to Find Help’ section if you have been affected by anything in this post. And I am open to what you think of my posts.