Do you struggle with a mental illness or know someone who does? Please find below the remaining “nuggets of wisdom” that I have learned in my own struggle with OCD, anxiety, and depression. Also feel free to pass them along! 🙂 (If you missed 12 Nuggets of Wisdom from My Experience with Mental Illness: Part 1, you can view it by clicking on the link).
- Locate and make use of the resources available to you. There is help out there for your struggle with mental illness. See if there is an employee assistance program where you (or your spouse) works that could provide you with free counseling. I have taken advantage of this opportunity, and it has very much helped me take steps forward in my recovery. If you are struggling with acquiring or keeping a job, look into government options such as temporary disability or permanent disability. Note: this type of help does not often come easily and will probably take a lot of time and effort on your part–but be persistent, and do whatever it takes to get the financial help that you need. There is also an organization called the Community Health Law Project in New Jersey that offers free or low cost legal advice and assistance. Check to see if a similar organization exists in your area. If you desire to work but need support and/or training throughout the process, try looking into a DVR (Division of Vocational Rehabilitation) located near you.
- Medication management is paramount. One of the most difficult things about dealing with a mental illness is finding the right medication regimen for YOU. Unfortunately, the medications that treat some mental illnesses (like depression and OCD) can take six to eight weeks until you receive the full effects of their benefits. Also, there are side effects with almost every medication, and it is difficult to deal with these and to establish if the benefits of the medication outweigh the side effects. It’s important to never go off of your medication or make dosage changes without the assistance of your psychiatrist. Just because you’re feeling better does not mean you can go off of your medication. It may just mean that the medication is working!
- Fight depression by taking steps forward–even when you don’t feel like it. When you have depression, a common symptom is that you lose interest in activities that you would normally enjoy. What have I learned to combat this? Do the activities anyhow! You most likely will not feel the same satisfaction while completing the activity–at first. In my own experience, however, if I have been persistent about involving myself in these activities again, the passion and enjoyment that I used to gain from them have begun to return. Try it and see if it may help YOU! 🙂
- Remain as positive-minded as you possibly can. The mindset with which you battle your mental illness is very important. For example, when I first began my behavioral health program, I was very uncertain if the group therapy that comprised two hours of my day would help me at all. I had only been exposed to individual therapy in the past, and I was doubtful that one therapist in a room full of people would be able to help me with my problems. But I tried to refrain from negative and/or distorted thinking, and soon learned that the group therapy WAS helping me–a lot!
- Keep a journal or some kind of written record of your recovery process. Maybe it’s just me, but writing down my struggles and the solutions that I learn to combat those struggles is extremely profitable. Not only does it help me to reinforce what I have learned, but also to remember what I have learned. Another benefit of keeping a journal is that you are then able to return to those pages during difficult times and be encouraged by how far you have come.
- Rely on God for the moment-by-moment strength you need to keep moving forward. It’s easy to feel like our maladies are insurmountable; but this is very far from the truth! If you know the Lord as Savior, you have the Holy Spirit living inside of you to be your Helper, your Father, your Friend, your Prince of Peace, and everything you will ever need. Lean on Him and watch in wonder as He infuses you with His own strength and brings glory to His name.