3 Things I Love About My Mental Illness
If you weren’t already aware, dealing with mental illness can be awful.
This illness robs you of your self-confidence, sucks away your excitement for life, and makes everyday tasks seem like impossible feats to accomplish.
Mental illness is basically The. Worst.
What I’ve noticed, however, is that dwelling, venting, and complaining about my mental illness never makes me feel good. (BTW: dwelling, venting, and complaining about your mental illness are different from talking about, exploring, and questioning your thoughts and feelings).
In fact, when I vent and complain, it often makes me feel much less hopeful that I’ll ever feel better.
(Spoiler alert: you’ll always eventually feel better. All feelings are temporary no matter how intense they are.)
Science can back me up that venting just makes you more miserable.
This happens for a couple reasons:
Venting and complaining keep the negative feelings in our minds longer.
Bad energy is contagious, and complaining will most likely negatively impact the people exposed to it.
And let’s face it: I am mentally ill (shoutout to all my Bipolar II friends). My brain chemistry is already doing an excellent job of making me miserable without any additional help.
This is why I’ve been making an effort lately to notice all the amazing and wonderful things that have happened in my life because of my mental illness.
But first, a disclaimer.
This post is not intended to glamorize mental illness or minimize anyone’s pain.
Even though I can find positive things about my condition, I still wish I didn’t have to deal with it. The silver lining is not worth the storm cloud of mental illness.
However, this bipolar cloud doesn’t seem to be moving anytime soon, so I’m just trying to make the best of it. I hope you feel inspired to uncover your own silver linings, because I pinky promise they are there.
1) Mental illness deepened my relationships
I am so lucky to have an amazing support crew of friends and family. Being open about my struggles with mental illness has shown me who my “real friends” are. I am able to be very vulnerable about my feelings and insecurities with my people, and this has allowed others to be vulnerable with me.
A lot of our worst thoughts and feelings are much more universal than we realize. This has made me feel a lot less isolated.
If you have yet to open up to someone about what you’re experiencing, then I highly recommend you do.
Remember, though: complaining about your mental illness is different than opening up about your feelings. It’s a lot easier to complain about mental illness than it is to openly talk about it.
Venting and complaining come from a place of anger and frustration. Discussing troubling thoughts comes from a position of vulnerability and a desire to work through what you’re feeling.
2) Mental illness taught me to prioritize my happiness
I am so thankful for my mental health recovery journey because I’m not sure I would have learned to prioritize my happiness without it.
I used to think that my value as a person was determined by how I could make others happy. I was a serial people-pleaser.
The other side of this wrong belief was that I was waiting around, expecting other people to make me happy. I would become very resentful because I was doing lots of things I didn’t really want to do for other people's happiness, and they were doing nothing for me.
Here’s what I realized: the only person who can really, truly make you happy is yourself.
I wouldn’t have realized this if I didn’t have to work so hard to improve my mood and mindset in the first place.
So thank you, mental illness, for showing me that prioritizing my happiness should come first. Now I can share my happiness and be my best self with those I love the most.
3) Mental illness showed me the importance of fun
I love to have fun, and I’m pretty sure this is a universal trait in every human.
However, there isn’t as much emphasis on prioritizing fun in our society as I believe there should be.
Having fun makes you feel better. Even if I am so depressed that I can’t get out of bed (it still happens to me, and that’s okay. Recovery isn’t linear) I always try to have as much fun as I can.
I value it so much that, in 2016, I packed up my suitcase and moved to the place in the world where I have the most fun - the beach!
Clean, healthy, (sober), fun is an excellent distraction from mental illness.
Moving to the beach didn’t solve all (or really any) of my problems. But I realized that if I’m going to be mentally ill, then the beach is where I want to be riding those highs and lows.
If I hadn’t worked through debilitating mental illness, I probably would still be doing what “society” expects of me instead of living the way that’s best for me.
In conclusion, dealing with mental illness is tough. Remember that you are a warrior if you are fighting this battle. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for those silver linings. They won’t make the storm clouds disappear, but they will distract you from the worst parts of it.
Developing this positive mindset is no easy feat, and it has taken me a lot of work. I want it to be easier for you, so I created the Mental Makeover Challenge. It’s a free, four-day video e-course delivered straight to your inbox. This challenge is the perfect way to develop your positive mindset so you can start to notice your own silver linings. Get started right now! Click here to watch Video 1.
BIO: Hannah Thomas is a writer, entrepreneur, and adventurer. Originally from Canada, she now lives in Costa Rica because being bipolar is more manageable with a tan. She writes about self-discovery, personal development, and mental health recovery at BeDeeplyHappy.com.