10 Things I've Learnt Through Having a Mental Breakdown! Part 1 (5 things...)
Within the last year, there have been a few things I have learnt that have really impacted the way I live today, so I would like to share them with you. This is part one of two posts, where I will share with you five things I have learnt through having a mental breakdown. Hopefully, they can bring more happiness and peace into your life.
1. Its ok to not be ok
This took me a while to realise, since I was so unhappy for a long period of time, and couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel or know how to get there. I felt guilty for being so depressed day after day. I could see that my family and friends felt helpless at times, as all they could do was just be there for me, which was actually all I needed. Of course it doesn’t feel good to not be ok, but accepting the way you feel is something I have recently learnt to do, knowing that I’m not alone and shouldn’t be afraid of telling others how I feel, as it is just a feeling. These feelings will go away, so for now, just sit with them, make friends with them and eventually they will pass.
2. You shouldn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed for having a mental illness
I felt so embarrassed for suddenly going into hiding, because I was really struggling. I didn’t know what was going on and knowing my friends and family didn’t fully understand what I was going through, I felt weak and didn’t want them to see me in the state I was in. The stigma around mental illness definitely made me feel this way. The lack of knowledge about mental illnesses made me feel stupid and silly for how I was feeling. Taking antidepressants and going to a psychologist was confronting and I was afraid of what people would think of me. With what I have learnt through this experience and the support I have received, I no longer feel embarrassed, rather I feel strong and proud of what I have overcome. Mental illnesses should be treated the same as any other illness, and we all need to remember that we are all human, who have feelings and emotions that need to be expressed. People are very good at hiding their emotions. We could know someone who seems happy and confident on the outside, but we don't know that they could be fighting their own demons on the inside. Now that I know that there are so many people around me suffering with a mental illness, I feel less alone and not embarrassed at all.
3. Always trust your gut and follow your intuition
We all have that gut feeling in many situations. It’s shouting out to you and you want to believe it is right, but then the mind joins in and fights this feeling. You may be in the middle of making a decision or figuring out what is right or wrong in a situation you are in. Your intuition is telling you to go one way and your mind is telling you to go another. If you’re lucky, your mind and intuition are on the same page and you definitely know the answer. But when they are against each other, we can feel lost and confused. I’m still finding it hard to trust my gut at times, but through this experience within the last year, the one thing that I have learnt to put first, is my happiness. That helps when I’m feeling uncertain, but I also pay attention to my mind and consider the other side of it, with all the realistic and logical thoughts. These thoughts can be right at times but I have also found fear can get in the way. Fear of what people will think, not knowing if it's the right decision and asking myself, "what if I fail?" This can be the mind playing tricks on you and creating anxiety that is really not needed. However, that gut feeling and our heart shouting at you is always there and it doesn’t change. So why not trust it! There is no such thing as a right or wrong decision. It’s just a decision that leads us somewhere. If the outcome is not really what you hoped for, it’s not the end of the world. It's an experience that hopefully has a lesson you can take from it. Most of the time, our intuition is telling us what we really want and what we truly believe is right for us, and knowing that you can handle whatever happens, will help you to always trust and follow that gut feeling that is always within us.
4. Be grateful for everything you have
We are often told, ‘be grateful for what you have’, but sometimes we don’t consciously practice gratitude. We go about our daily lives and when things get tough, we complain, get frustrated and often take for granted the things that deserve our gratitude . We are never reminded to look at the bigger picture or to change our perspective. When things went downhill for me, practicing gratitude was really hard at first. I was too overwhelmed with the strange feelings I was experiencing to think of the things I should be grateful for. I was stuck in my own mind, thinking about all of the bad stuff that was going on. Looking back now, I realise that I needed that time to sit with those negative thoughts and process what was going on. Getting over the worst of it, I learnt to notice all of the great things I have that I am grateful for. I consciously made an effort to be grateful for my family and friends and their support, simple things like sitting in the sun, playing with my dog and being able to walk, see and hear. I reminded myself that one day, everything would be ok, and I would be grateful for just being in the moment, and being completly aware of the world around me, without the dp/dr. We become so much more grateful when we lose something or someone, but that doesn't mean you can’t practice gratitude today. Right now, try and write down three things you are grateful for and I guarantee, it will lift your mood. The saying goes 'you don't know what you have until it’s gone', when the truth is, that we do know what we have, we just don't think we'll ever lose it. Be grateful for everything you have, because things can get taken away from you in just one moment.
5. Don’t stress over the little things, they really don’t matter
We can often get caught up in our own little bubble and stress over the smallest of things. This can take up a lot of unnecessary energy. Whether it be work, study or our own anxiety, we can stress over silly things, like not getting to work on time, or caring too much about what people think, leaving us in a pretty bad mood. We anxious types seem to be really good at stressing over small stuff, and even I'm still learning to care less about these things. I have gained a new perspective, learning to look at the bigger picture in terms of life and happiness. When I find myself stressing about something, I ask myself "does it really matter?", and if it’s over something I can’t control, I have to let it go and reassure myself that we can't control everything. I often tell myself "if it’s not hurting anyone, it really doesn't matter". This will help me let go of whatever is worrying me. What really matters to me is the happiness and health of myself and the people I love. Small things like failing a test or breaking something that can easily get replaced, really don't matter when we look at the bigger picture.
As I know what it feels like to be incredibly insecure and unhappy with myself, I now give very little attention to that mean voice in my head. I don't want to be that unhappy ever again and by letting go of the little things that really don't matter, has made me so much more relaxed and confident with myself. We all deserve to be happy and we need to look after our mental health. By just starting to worry less about the small things in our lives, we will begin to spend more time focusing on all the good things that make us happy.
To be continued… Stay tuned for part 2, for 5 more things I have learnt!
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