The Value of Taking Baby Steps Toward Mental Wellness

One of the most exciting things I’ve experienced was watching my niece learn to walk. It didn’t happen overnight; there was a long time of her getting comfortable at different stages of scooting, standing and moving, but one day it all came together, and she hasn’t stopped moving since. I thought about her today because it made me realize just how important those little steps are – a fitting metaphor for dealing with mental health challenges.

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Learning to Find Comfort in Messing Up

I get annoyed at myself a lot. Like, a lot. Multiple times a day. Part of that is my natural inclination after years of experiencing depression and anxiety, but part of it feels like human nature. No one is is happy about every single choice they make. We’re humans and we make mistakes. The problem is, I can hear that a million times, but an aspect of that never sinks in. Failing is extremely uncomfortable to me, and even though I’m discovering why, that doesn’t make it any easier to manage.

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Focusing on What’s Effective for Mental Wellness

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.

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Making Mental Health Adjustments Part One: Adjusting to Symptoms

How do you adjust to changes in your mental health? I’ve never seriously reflected on this question, but I know why I haven’t – it’s because I’m always doing it! I’m constantly adjusting and adapting to changes in my mental health, and I know many other people do this on a daily basis. Even though we’re constantly adapting, it’s difficult to take the time and break down how this is possible. Today is the first of a two-part series on how I’ve made adjustments to my mental health; specifically, how I adjust to symptoms of mental illness.

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Challenging My Instinct to Minimize Accomplishments

Most days, I don’t feel like I do anything. I definitely don’t feel like I accomplish things – and to me, an accomplishment is anything from finishing a book to getting out of bed. I’d chalk this up to the anxiety and depression I live with, but it’s also part of my personality to downplay achievements and minimize success. Despite this, I know that I (like everyone else) accomplish things in life, and I knew that the longer this problem persisted, the less I’d be able to acknowledge any sort of success. Now, I constantly work to make sure that I’m viewing achievements in a positive light – even if I don’t always believe myself.

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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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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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A Bad Mental Health Day Doesn’t Undo Progress

Recently, I had a bad day (that’s what I call going through any spells of depression and anxiety). A bad few days, even, since the residual effects of dealing with depression can linger in a uniquely difficult way. You can also call them bad mental health days if you want to be more specific. Either way, this was happening, and I felt powerless to stop it. But there was a calm after the storm, and during that time I try to collect my thoughts, process what happened and try to gain insight into that particular episode. It happened a few months ago, and I got through that moment differently. But in this moment, I needed a different reminder, and I got it (hint: it’s the title of the post!)

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What is My Mental Health Goal?

In the year and a half since I started this blog, I have undergone a positive transformation in regards to my mental health. I have started to prioritize healthiness over happiness, and that decision has paid dividends. But what are the long-term goals for my mental health? The reason I’m asking this question is because I don’t have an answer.

One of my most reliable coping strategies is living present and taking each moment as it comes. A speaker at a work event said something last week that stuck with me, and it’s an approach I realized I’d been taking with my mental health.

“Just make it through the next meal. If you can’t make it through the next meal, make it through the next hour. If you can’t make it through the next hour, make it through the next minute. And if you can’t make it through the next minute, make it through the next moment.” – Jon Sanchez

I’ve focused so much on getting through every hour, every minute, every moment, that I haven’t thought much about what I’m trying to accomplish. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; sometimes you have to use whatever you can to get through the day. But those days can add up, and sometimes knowing that you have a long-term goal to work toward is a source of inspiration and strength on the days when things aren’t so great. It’s been that way with other aspects of my life, and now I want it to happen with my mental health as well.

There is no shortage of information on setting and achieving goals (if you don’t believe me, just Google it), and while it’s a good place to start, you need to make sure that your goals are unique to you and your lifestyle. This is where I struggle! I don’t know how to cater goals to suit my needs, and the result is that no goals are made at all.

I could also chalk this up to not really feeling secure in what my purpose is at the moment. While I’m extremely excited about my impending move, I realize this decision will not provide more security, which makes having long-term goals all the more important. I guess it’s a step in the right direction that I’m even thinking about this; a year ago, having a long-term mental health goal was a pipe dream. I was just worried about making it to the next day. But now that I’m able, I’d like to figure out what it is I’m working toward. And when I have, I’ll be sure to let you know.

What are some of your long-term goals? Whether they’re mental-health related or not, I could certainly use some ideas!

Andrew Carengie