Balancing Accomplishments with Our Mental Health

When I was in college, I was very interested in motivation culture. I’m sure most of you are familiar, but to, that meant a lot of videos, speeches and mixtapes about being your best self and going after the life you want to live. It was one of my first real attempts at improving my mental health, and the results were…mixed. I viewed depression as a battle – one I was going to win. But my excessive interest around this self-improvement and self-help content was centered around getting rid of my depression. This approach made it nearly impossible to appreciate any sort of accomplishment – big or small – and in the years since, I’ve tried to create a more balanced approach to balancing my mental health with accomplishing and working toward goals I’ve always dreamed about.

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Doing What You Need to Get What You Need

Sometimes the word productive gets on my nerves. It’s unfortunate, because in a lot of settings the word is helpful. I like thinking about the work I do in terms of productivity – whether it’s my job or passion projects on the side, it’s important that I’m productive because I love the things I do and I want my work to reflect that. But the second people started slipping the word productive into how we live our personal lives, I knew it would be something that bothered me. I can see how daily goals set around productivity and efficiency can help someone accomplish many things, but in my experience, that sort of mindset never helped me get what I needed to be mentally healthy.

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Being Resilient Against Mental Illness

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.

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The Difficulty of Putting Mental Wellness First

Mental wellness is one of my favorite things to talk and learn about. Because of that, I’ve learned a lot about the ways that people incorporate mental wellness into their day-to-day lives. From therapy and meditation to physical exercise and coping strategies, there are plenty of ways that we tangibly put our wellness first. However, focusing on mental wellness in our daily lives isn’t as easy at it sounds. Why? Simply put, life happens – and that’s okay.

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Why I Don’t Always See My Mental Health Progress

When I was in the midst of managing a string of anxiety attacks a few weeks ago, I couldn’t think about much else that was going on that day. Fortunately I didn’t have work or any set plans since it was the weekend, but my anxious symptoms made me feel as though the entire day was a wash. But having some time to look back that day, I now realize that I handled the situation much better than I would have in the past. I still didn’t enjoy those symptoms and feelings of anxiety and depression in the moment, but I could see the progress I’ve made with a little hindsight. Unfortunately, it takes time to notice that progress, which can be hard to see when you’re in a difficult mental health situation.

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Changing My Perspective to Improve My Mental Wellness

The inspiration for this post came a few days ago. I was riding a stationary bike at my girlfriend’s for the second day in a row, and I wasn’t sure how much I was going to get out of it. The day before, I slogged through the ride, feeling like I wasn’t really getting what I needed. I didn’t think I had the mindset to do that again, so I decided to adjust everything on the bike – and I mean everything. The seat, the handlebars, the resistance on the pedals. I ended up having one of the best workouts I’d had in a few weeks. When I was done, I immediately thought about the connection between this workout, my mental health, and how perspective is allowed to change and adapt when it comes to our wellness.

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Why I Changed My Goals for Therapy

This past summer, I decided to go back to therapy. It had been a few years since I’d seen someone on a regular basis, and I thought I’d benefit from talking to someone about some of the life changes that were happening at the time. There have been many positive things that came out of my therapy sessions in the past nine months, and I can tell that a big benefit of therapy is talking to someone on a semi-regular basis. But over time, I also noticed how my goals for therapy shifted, which is what I’d like to talk about today.

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Coping With Chronic Mental Health Challenges

I’ve knowingly lived with depression and anxiety for more than eight years. Even though I’ve grown in a lot of positive ways over that time, there have also been many challenges and obstacle, a lot of which existed primarily due to depression and anxiety. A while back I realized that matter how many steps I take to improving my mental health, obstacles will always exist. They might look different during various parts of life, but they will continue to happen, challenging my mental wellness in a now-familiar pattern. It’s one of the most frustrating aspects of living with a chronic mental health condition, but there are things I’ve learned over that that improved my approach to living with depression and anxiety.

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Talking About Mental Health on the (Inter)national Stage

TW: This post discusses suicide/suicidal thoughts.

Like millions people around the world, I watched Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Oprah Interview this week. I thought it was very good for many reasons, but since this is a mental health blog I’ll stick to what we do and what inspired this post, which is how Meghan Markle spoke on her own mental health. The way she shared her story and how she connected the dots reminded me of the value of public figures to opening up about their mental health.

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How ‘Life Hacks’ Simplify My Mental Health Challenges

For me, an important part of living with depression and anxiety is research. Back when I was first learning about my mental health struggles Google was my best friend, and I’d look up everything from symptoms to the best way I can overcome depression. I found a lot of helpful information that taught me a lot about mental health and what I was dealing with, but not all of the information felt helpful to me. And it usually came when I was on a page that would talk about ‘life hacks’ to improve my mental health or beat depression. While I love the concept of life hacks, their application to mental health simplifies the challenges we face every day. I struggle with the idea of using life hacks to ‘beat’ depression, and here’s why.

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