When I learned of the Blog for Mental Health pledge last year, I thought, “Perfect! This is exactly what I intended my blog to be!” I’m so excited that I get to take the pledge again; it seems like an awesome way to begin 2014.
So, without further ado:
“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”
I’ve been writing about my experiences with mental health – particularly coping with anxious depression – all year. The biggest trend I’ve noticed is a movement away from viewing my mental illness as something separate from myself that I must fight against, and toward accepting it as part of who I am.
This isn’t to say that I allow myself to be defined by my anxious depression and give up on my goals, relationships, and responsibilities – though I will admit it is sometimes tempting to do so. Rather, it allows me to have a more consistent experience of reality, despite fluctuations in the severity of my symptoms. These fluctuations can be drastic over a short period of time and completely change my perception of my abilities, situation, interpersonal relationships, etc.
When I accept my mental illness as part of who I am, I can treat myself with compassion and do what I need to take care of myself – whatever that means in the moment. Sometimes it means remembering that yesterday I was viewing the world through “depression goggles” (and/or “anxiety goggles”) and choosing to celebrate what I was able to do, instead of criticizing myself for having difficulties. Sometimes it means allowing myself to fully feel difficult emotions and express them, even though I can’t explain why I’m feeling them. Often it means reaching out to loved ones for help, support, and hugs.
Taking care of myself has recently meant reminding my inner critic that I appreciate its company, but need it to use nicer words and a gentler tone to help me learn from my mistakes. Occasionally it means clinging to the knowledge that the severity of my symptoms fluctuates and the hope that tomorrow will be better, just to get through today. And on good days – those wonderful, rare, precious good days – it means being fully present and soaking in every glorious moment to make the best possible memories.
I’m trying to move toward using relatively good days to set up some kind of support structure that will make the not-so-good days easier – not just to get through, but to live within. If I can accept my mental illness as part of myself, then I can use my strengths on the days when I have the most access to them, to create accommodations for myself to use on the days when I feel the weakest.
Please visit the original Blog for Mental Health 2014 post for more information about the campaign and instructions for taking the pledge. I hope to see you on the official blogroll!!!