When I write about mental health, I often use the word effective to talk about a certain technique or method that I’m researching or using. I’ve started to use this word more and more in the past few years, and it’s become one of the biggest ways I’ve measured mental wellness and how I manage mental health challenges. By putting a focus on how effective things are, I’ve been able to prioritize my mental health in a way I hadn’t been able to do before. Here’s why that’s important.
When I first started finding techniques to manage my mental health, I thought of them in two broad categories: good and bad. I wasn’t really sure about the specifics of what these words meant, but I knew their meaning in the most general sense: things that were good for my mental health got rid of my feelings of anxiousness, hopelessness and worry, and things that were bad for my mental health meant those feelings didn’t go anywhere. It was a fairly simple (and unrealistic) approach to mental health, but I was going off what I knew at the time.
Over time, I learned that you can’t look at mental health in such black-and-white terms. I’d often get mad after reading about something that I thought might be helpful (journaling and self-esteem building come to mind) and giving it a try, only to find that I felt the same way I did before.
Unfortunately, it took my years to learnt this particular bit of nuance about mental health. What might work for one person might not work for another and since everyone is different, everyone’s approach to mental health should reflect that. So instead of trying things out in terms of what I thought ‘worked’ and what I thought ‘didn’t work,’ I started thing about the word effective, as in: how effective was this solution in managing my symptoms of depression and anxiety?
I got rid of the vague terms of good and bad because I realized they weren’t all that helpful for me. I didn’t know what those words meant when it came to my mental health, and I definitely didn’t know how to define them in relation to my mental health challenges. By using the word effective, I’d found a more accurate word to describe my goals. I wasn’t looking to solve every problem or get rid of every issue. I was just trying to minimize the impact of my challenges and find the best path to wellness that I could.
My mental health challenges felt like they were impossible to go up against, and this shift was one of the biggest ways I changed my approach to mental health over time. When I deal with mental health challenges, an important goal of mine is to find what will be effective for me and use it as many times as I can. It might seem like a small shift, but it’s led to a massive change in mindset along my mental health journey.
Some of the words I use to describe my mental health challenges have changed along the way, but now I want to hear from you! Have the words you use to describe your mental health challenges changed over time? Let me know in the comments!