About 1 in 5 adults experience some sort of mental illness in a given year and about 1 in 25 adults experience mental illness that significantly impacts their lives. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so we wanted to touch on the importance of taking care of your mental health and breaking the stigma that mental illness has been attached to for decades. At Glitter Guide, we are all about “self-care” whether it has to do with beauty, exercise or the food we eat, and we wholeheartedly believe that taking care of your mental health is an important part of self-care, as well. Whether you are going through pregnancy, being a new mom, working at a high-stress job or just feeling down, mental health issues can affect anyone—and you aren’t alone. Today, Abby is sharing a bit about her experiences with mental illness, how it’s affected her life and why, at the end of the day, it has had some positive impact on her life and who she is today. We hope you enjoy this personal post.
A lot of people may not know this about me, but I’ve struggled with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety and bi-polar II disorder since I was 15. It’s been a long and hard road with lots of ups and downs. It’s something that is part of my day-to-day life and always will be. I’m pretty open about my struggles in my life and have even written about them a few times on my own blog, but seeing as it’s Mental Health Awareness Month, I thought I’d share a slightly different perspective. Today, I wanted to share how my mental health disorders have positively impacted my life. I never thought I’d ever say that, and it’s something that’s taken almost 15 years for me to realize, but at the end of the day, I think it’s really worth noting and sharing with others who may be going through similar situations or struggle with mental illness. Consider this my silver lining…
- It’s made me a more compassionate and caring person – I’ve always been somewhat of an emotional and sensitive person, but I feel like going through my own struggles has really opened my eyes about the different ways every person struggles. I feel like I’m able to understand and connect with people in my life on a deeper level and I really make time to listen to what’s going on in their lives and see how I can be helpful or comforting. I care deeply about the people in my life and I always want to make sure they are OK and be there for them. I know they’ve done the same thing for me whether they’ve known it or not.
- It’s made me less judgmental – I’m so grateful that people are being more open and breaking the stigma when it comes to mental illness, but I have to say, before my own issues surfaced, I could have easily been one of those people who judged those with mental health issues. Now, obviously, I don’t know if that would be true, but it’s a definite possibility, and I’m so glad that’s not the case. Growing up, it’s easy to get caught up in the mentality that people who are different than you are weird or crazy or bad or should be punished. Going through my issues, I’ve actively learned to embrace differences—not only in myself, but in other people. I’ve been to therapy groups where there were people you’d never suspect were going through some really serious, hard stuff. I’ve learned not to judge people by the way they look or an initial interaction. Everybody has their own story.
- It’s made me more in tune with my body, my mind and my emotions – Going through my issues, I’ve really had to dig deep and look inside myself. I’ve had to listen to my feelings and understand the way my mind works. After years of hard work, I feel like I know and understand myself better. I can recognize when I feel sad or if I’m starting to feel depressed or anxious, and I know when to ask for help or what I need to do to get myself back on track. I have healthy coping mechanisms and I know how to use them.
- It’s helped give me tools that have been useful in all different areas of my life – Similar to #3, I’ve learned a lot of ‘tools’ that have helped me in all different aspects of my life, including communication. Most of this I have to give credit to years of therapy, but it’s changed my life for the better, nonetheless! Therapy has helped me learn how to communicate my thoughts and feelings to others in a more effective and rational matter, but it has also helped me be a better listener as well. I have a better understanding of tone, phrases and how they are or can be received by others. This has not only helped me with the relationships in my life, but with the jobs I have and even daily interactions with strangers.
- It’s helped me gain a little bit more perspective on certain things in life – Dealing with mental illness is hard and often an uphill battle, and having that be a significant focus in my life, it’s made me worry less about other things. Going through any struggle in life makes you appreciate the good things you have and makes you realize that some of the things you thought were so big and important, maybe aren’t. I think I care more about my well-being, my health and those around me than what people I don’t know think of me, what I look like or what I have or don’t have.