12 Nuggets of Wisdom from My Experience with Mental Illness: Part 2

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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! ūüôā (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! ūüôā
  • 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.

My Source of Hope

what-gives-me-hopeWhat gives you hope? According to Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, it is God’s grace that gives him hope. He states: “What gives me the most hope every day is God’s grace; knowing that his grace is going to give me the strength for whatever I face, knowing that nothing is a surprise to God.”

I would have to agree. Without God’s grace, I would not have the strength to fight the¬†mental battles of anxiety and OCD, to wrestle with doubt and discouragement, to¬†accomplish daily¬†tasks, to embrace change, or to face life’s difficulties head-on.

“And He [Jesus] has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.'” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NASB) It certainly doesn’t make sense: that when we are at our weakest, it is then that we are actually at our strongest. Not because of who we are or what we can do, but because of God’s power residing¬†within us. Realizing that we don’t need to rely on ourselves to get through each day is certainly a great cause for hope.

Have you ever read Lamentations 3? It is one of my favorite passages of Scripture. After the author of the book (probably Jeremiah the Prophet) weeps and laments profusely regarding the condition of the people of Israel, he calls to mind a truth that gives him hope.

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

Because of God’s presence and His power, we can have peace. We can have hope for the future, knowing that the Lord is in control. Our heavenly Father sees our difficulties, and promises to be with us right there in the midst of them.

What is it that gives you hope?

Feeling Stronger

strengthI’m feeling stronger today.

I woke up late this morning, missed my van ride to my behavioral health program, but decided to drive myself there anyway. This was quite a large victory, as in the beginning of the program, I was too anxious to drive myself to group. So thank God, I arrived at the facility on time this morning and back home again safely this afternoon.

I’m scheduled to discharge from the program next Wednesday, September 3, and I definitely have mixed emotions. I’ve learned so much and grown in so many different ways. I’ve thrived in the program’s environment, where people have cared about my well-being and where I have been¬†able to share my struggles with others who have similar battles with mental health. I will really miss my therapist, my psychiatrist, and the awesome people with whom I’ve shared so many hours of therapy.

But the Lord is working out the issues in my life, one day at a time. And He’s given me new strength to face whatever is lurking up ahead.

There is a song by Mandisa called “Stronger,” the words of which have resonated with me time and again. I hope that they can be an encouragement to you, as well! ūüôā

When the waves are taking you under
Hold on just a little bit longer
He knows that this is gonna make you stronger, stronger
The pain ain’t gonna last forever
In time it’s gonna get better
Believe me
This is gonna make you stronger