Living with known mental illness can be exhausting. I don’t mean this in a dramatic way, or to make it comparable to living with other known conditions. I literally mean it can be exhausting. I get tired a lot because I spend a ton of physical energy on managing my depression and anxiety. Once you recognize how your mental illness can manifest itself, you can exert a lot of energy toward minimizing those feelings or situations. These situations can leave you physically, mentally and emotionally drained, which is frustrating. But I’ve learned that being resilient against mental illness not only goes a long way toward wellness, but it can help you manage living with mental illness in the long run.
Before I continue, I want to make it clear that I’m not trying to gloss over the exhausting parts of living with known mental illness. There can be many challenges to living with mental illness, and they can be extremely different depending on the condition and the person living with them.
Today, I’m focusing on how we feel when we’re tired. And I don’t mean I want to go to sleep tired. Living with a known mental illness can leave you exhausted from managing and fighting off symptoms all day long, and it can be hard to recover from. Resiliency might sound like a catch-all to not let mental illness ‘get you down’, but if you handle those times in an intentional way, you can create a healthier approach going forward.
As an example, I experience anxiety/panic attacks and crying spells on a semi-regular basis. Depending on the severity of the situation, I usually need some time to decompress and clear my head. It takes time, space and energy to do this, and rushing through that process is often damaging for me. For me, being resilient against mental illness means finding healthy ways to slow down my heart rate, manage my breathing and get back to center.
Fighting off anxiety attacks and crying spells is tiring. Trying to manage my symptoms of mental illness in real time is also exhausting. But a resilient mindset means that you’re not just focused on the immediate moment, but making sure you’re okay in the long run. And I’ll be honest – sometimes it means that instead of fighting off that pain, I make sure I’m in a space where I can just feel what I need to feel in a healthy and safe way. Does it make those moments any less painful? Not really. But my focus is to get what I need, not what I want, which is the center of my resilient mindset.
I don’t mind hearing about the ‘bend, dont break’ attitude surrounding mental health. If people are finding healthy ways to live that work for them, the more power to you! But I don’t know if everyone knows just how much you can bend before you break. People who live with mental illness bend constantly, and it’s helpful to find more ways to do that as we go about our lives. Resilience appears in many different ways, and learning resilience against mental illness goes a long way toward a healthier life.