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.

12 Nuggets of Wisdom from My Experience with Mental Illness: Part 1

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Living with a mental illness for the past fifteen or so years has been a harrowing experience. I’ve had some up’s, but many down’s. Thankfully, however, God has enabled me to learn from my experiences and to develop a few tactics in order to live a more enriched and satisfying life. I would like to share these with you, with the hope that you can use these “nuggets of wisdom” in your own life.

  • Recovery is a process — it doesn’t happen overnight.¬†I cannot count the number of times I have thought to myself or even said aloud, “I want to be better, NOW!” Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.There are many aspects to a person’s recovery, and each need to be addressed over a period of time. Yes, I¬†hate not knowing when I’m going to be “better”, but I have learned that each day is a new opportunity to learn and to grow and to improve.
  • It’s important to take responsibility for your own recovery.¬†It’s one thing to want to get better because your spouse or your children or any other person/people desire(s) it, but it’s much more effective when you have the desire within yourself to overcome your areas of difficulty¬†and to become the best person that you can be. This gives you motivation that you wouldn’t always have if you were attempting to heal for the sake of¬†someone else.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s humbling and embarrassing at first to realize that you need outside help in order to work towards healing, but the sooner you admit this truth to yourself, the closer you will be to getting connected with the resources that can help you in your recovery.
  • Widen your support group. This was (and still is) a difficult endeavor¬†for me. I rely greatly¬†on a very few number of people¬†with whom I am close, and have always had a hard time knowing how to reach out and get the extra support that I need. This support could be from a pastor, a church group, a counselor, a friend, a family member, a recovery program, or a group that meets to specifically discuss mental health issues. The goal is to have people around you on whom you can rely, as opposed to only having one person to reach out to. This is not healthy for yourself, or for the other person.
  • Don’t be ashamed of your mental illness.¬†Unfortunately, there is still a large stigma related to mental illness. Many people just don’t understand, because they haven’t had this type of experience themselves. But having a battle with mental illness does not make you any less of a person, or any less “normal” than anyone else. Even though¬†I have¬†never felt “normal,” I am learning that everyone has areas in which they struggle; and although they may be different areas, we all share the common need to grow and improve and to overcome the obstacles in our lives.
  • Learn as much as you can about your mental illness.¬†As is often said, knowledge is power. Do whatever it takes to grow in your understanding of your illness. Whether it be researching the nature and possible cause(s) of the illness, searching for available treatment options, or exploring different coping skills that you may be able to use to improve your quality of life, it is extremely important to educate yourself in all aspects of your illness.

I will continue with the last six “nuggets of wisdom” soon. Thank you for reading, and I sincerely hope that what I have learned from my own struggles can be¬†even a small tool to help you (or someone you know) in your¬†(or their)¬†journey.

Here is a link to 12 Nuggets of Wisdom from My Experience with Mental Illness: Part 2!

A Proverb a Day

Proverbs-everyday-wisdomIf you are like many people who find themselves caught up in the activities of daily living¬†(including myself), but long to spend time reading and meditating on God’s Word, the book of Proverbs is a great place to start.

Proverbs is a unique book in that it has a collection of wise sayings, each of which may or may not be related to each other. Whereas in many books of the Bible you need to be more concerned about the context, with the book of Proverbs, many times (but not always) each wise saying, or proverb, may stand for itself.

Another awesome thing about the book of Proverbs is that it has 31 chapters–which perfectly coordinates with the number of days in a month. I have found that if I want to spend a little time in God’s Word, but don’t know where to start, I go to the chapter number in the book of Proverbs¬†that corresponds with the day of the month.

For example, yesterday was September 16th, so I read Proverbs chapter 16 (which is one of my favorites). I will share the chapter below, so that you can get an idea of how applicable this book of the Bible is, and how it so naturally lends itself to further pondering and meditation throughout the day.

Proverbs 16 (ESV – emphasis mine)

1 The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.
2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
but the LORD weighs the spirit.
3 Commit your work to the LORD,
and your plans will be established.
4 The LORD has made everything for its purpose,
even the wicked for the day of trouble.
5 Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the LORD;
be assured, he will not go unpunished.
6 By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for,
and by the fear of the LORD one turns away from evil.
7 When a man’s ways please the LORD,
he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
8 Better is a little with righteousness
than great revenues with injustice.
9 The heart of man plans his way,
but the LORD establishes his steps.
10 An oracle is on the lips of a king;
his mouth does not sin in judgment.
11 A just balance and scales are the LORD’s;
all the weights in the bag are his work.
12 It is an abomination to kings to do evil,
for the throne is established by righteousness.
13 Righteous lips are the delight of a king,
and he loves him who speaks what is right.
14 A king’s wrath is a messenger of death,
and a wise man will appease it.
15 In the light of a king’s face there is life,
and his favor is like the clouds that bring the spring rain.
16 How much better to get wisdom than gold!
To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.
17 The highway of the upright turns aside from evil;
whoever guards his way preserves his life.
18 Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall.
19 It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor
than to divide the spoil with the proud.
20 Whoever gives thought to the worda will discover good,
and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.
21 The wise of heart is called discerning,
and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.
22 Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it,
but the instruction of fools is folly.
23 The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious
and adds persuasiveness to his lips.
24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
25 There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.b
26 A worker’s appetite works for him;
his mouth urges him on.
27 A worthless man plots evil,
and his speechc is like a scorching fire.
28 A dishonest man spreads strife,
and a whisperer separates close friends.
29 A man of violence entices his neighbor
and leads him in a way that is not good.
30 Whoever winks his eyes plansd dishonest things;
he who purses his lips brings evil to pass.
31 Gray hair is a crown of glory;
it is gained in a righteous life.
32 Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
33 The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the LORD.

I hope that you enjoyed reading Proverbs 16! If you found it profitable, please feel free to take that next step and read Proverbs 17, which corresponds with today’s date.

May God bless your heart’s desire to read His Word and to know Him more!


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