What Recovery Means in Terms of Mental Health

Hey y’all! Since I’m on spring break and currently visiting one of my friends at college, I have waaay too much time on my hands, so here I am, back again!  What’s good about this break is, I get to relax before getting back in the rhythm of school, next week.

Nah, but in all seriousness, I’m ready to start refreshed and anew.

So tonight’s blog post is going to be about what recovery means in terms of mental health.

So… Mental health, as we know it, is nothing to fuck around with. I mean, think about it, if we aren’t mentally okay, then how are we able to focus on the task at hand? We all cope with our mental health and unwind on our days off-from school, work, or both- in different ways.

Some people go shopping…

Some workout…

Some even just sit at home, heat up some tea and read.

Whatever you do to unwind, you get the picture. The thing is though, not a lot of people pay attention to their mental health or stress levels. In fact, it is something that people need to do, but many feel like they don’t have time to do so.

At least that’s how I saw it before I got depressed.

Not too long ago, I remember talking to someone about my mental health and how I dealt with it. I kept it brief, because: a) I do not remember everything when I was struggling with my depression and b) it’s too much to even talk about, it’d probably take a whole day to talk about it (but even then, I’d unknowingly leave out some important details). Regardless, this person noticed that I kept reiterating the lighter side of my depression, when I was in recovery.

“Karen, you keep saying ‘recovery’. What does that mean?” They ask.

I get it. It’s a questionable thing because mental health illnesses like depression and anxiety, can come back at any point in your life. It’s all in how you deal with it, that makes all the difference. I think this question speaks for anyone who is wondering what “recovery from depression and other mental health illnesses” actually means if it is something bound to come back.

Recovery in terms of mental health, means that you have been able to deal with your illness without the help of medications and instead, with a knowledge of coping skills (fancy word for ways of dealing/coping with depression and anxiety or other mental illnesses).

Coping skills are, but not limited to:

  • Deep-Breathing Exercises
  • Mindfulness
  • Meditation
  • Making To-Do Lists
  • Writing
  • Working Out
  • Grounding Yourself
  • Reading Self-Help books
  • Petting your dog/cat
  • Visualization

You can make anything (that is good for you, of course) a coping skill. Like I said before, it’s all in how you choose to deal.

You learn these coping skills, as you take medication or as you see a trusted therapist.

For me, when my depression hit, I was on medication for it. I had mild to moderate depression. Regardless of the severity in my depression, I believe it needed be treated and needed to be looked at as a serious problem. End of story.

The positive thing about my recovery, was that once I ran out of Paxil, I didn’t need to continue taking it. Medication goes a long way, but it can also become a crutch. That crutch can be a good thing and a bad thing, but if you feel like you’re doing so much better mentally, then ask your doctor if you can ween off of your medication. By ween off, I mean lowering your dosage of your anti-depressants or anti-psychotics under the supervision of a Doctor/Psychiatrist. The way I see it is, you don’t really want to be on crutches for the rest of your life, if you know that you are doing a lot better. You want to recover (there’s that word again) and possibly go back to a life where you didn’t have to worry about taking medication. This also means that you apply the coping skills in place of it.

The subject of medication and whether or not people with mental illness need it, is kind of a double ended sword and I don’t want to come off as anti-medication, because I don’t know what each person’s needs are. I’m writing this as an informative post and if you have something to add, please feel free to leave a comment below!

There are some people who need to take their medications, because if they don’t, they break out in hives or get weird bodily sensations that don’t help them focus on the task at hand and that is when medication is necessary. That is completely within their needs. Everyone has a different brain chemistry.

The thing about many of these medications, is they alter your brain chemistry. For example, when I was on Paxil, it gave me more of an appetite. With a significant increase in appetite, came my sleeping patterns. Essentially, the more I ate, the more I was able to sleep well.

Even though I gained 45 pounds, Paxil did its job as my anti-depressant and with the help of my family and medical professionals, I was able to recover from my depression. Because of this, I am forever grateful. Recovery ain’t pretty, but it’s well-worth the effort.

A good bit of recovery consists of 3 things:

  1. Having a good support system (friends, family, doctors, significant other, etc)
  2. How well the medications are and If they are doing their job (If they aren’t, then talk to your doctor about it)
  3. If you’re doing your part in remembering and working on your coping skills (making the effort in talking to a trusted therapist).

If you’ve hit a crossroads in your recovery, then try re-evaluating what is missing in your recovery. Do you need to start looking for new friends? Do you need another kind of medication? Do you need to see someone different? Speak up about it and make it known, because the sooner you know, the better off you’ll be when dealing with your mental health illness.

Make it a priority to check in on how you are doing and what you’re doing to cope. Life comes with all these crazy twists and turns, it’s up to us to decide whether or not we want to continue going with the fast paced lifestyle or to take a break.

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‘Cause Baby You’re Worth It

Hey guys! I’ve been so busy getting all my assignments in for midterms (only to find out that most my classes have been cancelled as a result of this snowstorm). Before I begin, I’d like to wish a Happy Belated International Women’s Day, to women of the world. May we love them, respect them, and learn from them!

One day, I was driving home from school and was listening to the radio. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE to turn up the volume on a good song!

Has anyone heard of Fifth Harmony’s song “Worth It”?

I freaking love listening to this song and even though it has been played more than a million times on the radio, I still jam out whenever it comes on. On the day that I was driving back, however, I paid attention to the lyrics more than ever.

Give it to me, I’m worth it
Baby I’m worth it
Uh huh I’m worth it
Gimme gimme I’m worth it

These opening lines are so empowering. I know that this is in reference to a girl telling her man that she wants a specific thing, but to me, it means so much more. This sassy vocal in this doesn’t play around or beat around the bush. The singer knows what she wants and isn’t going to question it. I feel like that is what we all aspire to be.

How many times do we say “I’m going to be more true to myself” or “I’m tired of being afraid of who I am”? I mean, we are entitled to what we want and it’s up to us to articulate that. We DESERVE that, because baby, we’re worth it.

I’ve spent most of my life being afraid of who I am and who I wanted to be. It took me awhile to find my worth and that’s something I want to share. From a pretty young age, I remember feeling pretty shitty about myself. Then again, it wasn’t just me who felt this way towards me.

I often gravitated to the people who were “popular” or people who never really shared similar beliefs in terms of academics and success.

enter 13-year-old me.

I surrounded myself around people who never even bothered to see my worth. What’s even crazier, is I thought that they would, only because I didn’t see worth within myself.

It took me a long time to get to where I am today. I’ve been dying to write about something like this but have not yet had the right words to describe my experience- or battle, if you will- with this, until now.

Looking back, I’ve always been outgoing, sassy and sarcastic, but only with the people I considered my friends and close family members.

It wasn’t until I got to college that all of that changed. One of the main things that I wanted to do was step out of my comfort zone. After all, I noticed a significant change in my mood, thanks to the anti-depressants I was on. While I was at college, I made a ton of new friends and I felt a sense of ease because I realized that I could be me. I could be me and see the load of worth I found in myself throughout my recovery.

The moment that you find your worth, is the moment that things start to come together. For example, when I set out to find a group of friends who shared similar beliefs and were people I could have fun with, life gravitated me to that.

I became this very outgoing sassy person and I loved it! I’m still this way today, but now I let it radiate through to everyone I meet, which is an amazing feeling.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the past and how it has lead me to now. There have been certain things that have definitely set me back, but now I’m getting into the mindful habit of not letting myself be stuck in the past. Instead of being stuck, I’m learning from the past because it serves as a big lesson in life.

However, I get that it’s so much better to ditch the past because who cares, right? The thing is though, sometimes the past serves as a lesson. When you notice something, like a pattern or even a habit you get into, from time to time, you become more aware of your own short comings.

For example, I had this unbearable habit of talking smack about my friends behind their backs to people they were close to. Time and time again proved that I cannot always trust people who are close to these so-called friends of mine.

But when life throws us a lesson, do we make the effort to listen to it and learn from it?

More than half the time, we don’t. Before we know it, we’ve fallen victim to the same thing.

Or like whenever I would engage in self-depreciating behavior, I remember holding myself up to a standard and putting all this pressure on myself to be the best. I thought that if I fell below that, it meant that I wasn’t deserving of all the good things in life.

It took me a long time to realize that I can never be perfect. The only one who is, is the big man upstairs.

Now, I am more conscious of being mindful whenever I make a mistake. In fact, I’ll do one of two things: laugh it off or just say – to myself – any of these phrases, “the more I know”, “good to know”, “well, you didn’t know, but you know now for the future”, etc etc. Even if I feel myself come to have self-deprecating thoughts, I stop it by saying “okay, so lets not get self deprecating up in here, let’s look for a solution to my problem, instead.”

It also boils down to whoyou surround yourself with and what you surround yourself with to feel worthy. Make sure that both your who and your what are positive things, because if you think about it, these two things are interdependent of each other.

If your who involves people who are toxic and feed off of your energy, then most likely your ‘what’ is going to involve some self-deprecating behaviors.

not at all saying that drinking is bad, but if you’re doing it to fill a void of worthlessness then check out my post on voids

The same thing goes with good things too. If your ‘who’ are people who motivate you, make you feel at ease, then your ‘what’ is going to be some mindful behaviors that are productive and help you work towards your goals.

Bottom line: Find your worth and see where it leads you. Engage in behaviors that promote mindfulness and allow you to grow. Look to the past and learn from it.

“Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.”- 1 Corinthians 10:6-11

Sending love and light your way!

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