What Mental Illness Has Taught Me

Discovering any good through challenging experiences can be difficult. We don’t always identify the good parts of what we are going through. Sometimes the lessons we learn from the hard times are only seen once we are through them. I thought I would share a few things I have learned from having a mental illness.

My Struggles Make Me Stronger

Struggling through life is something everyone does, regardless of having a mental illness or not. Not one person struggles the same as the next. I have learned that I am stronger because of my struggles. The strength it takes to find my way through them is a strength I never knew I had. I’m more than my struggles and will be more than the struggles on the horizon.

There is No Normal

Just what is normal anyway? My normal differs from your normal. Normal is in the beholder’s eye. I can say I want to be normal, but the truth is I am normal. At least normal for me, and I am okay with that. Being different is good and if normal is following along like a blind sheep than I don’t want that.

Smiles Aren’t Always Real

A smile can hide a world of hurt and pain. I know because I have smiled through some of my darkest days so no one would know. I’ve learned to look beyond the smile and attempt to see if it is genuine. Sometimes people need help but don’t know how to ask for it. Sometimes they don’t think they can ask for help. I want to be the person who others know they can turn to if needed.

The Power of No

The word no was not in my vocabulary for several years. I thought I needed to say yes to pretty much everything and everyone. I have learned that my mental illness care comes first, even when that means saying no. My family has to come before other things, but I do them no good if I don’t care for my health. Both my physical and mental health.

Kindness is Worth Millons

Taking a moment to be kind to someone can make all the difference in their day. I have learned that more than anything else. There have been days when my day has been beyond bad. Then someone will make a compliment or send me an email that just makes the day seem better. A moment of kindness can make even the worse seem better. I told a family friend that he was fabulous recently. He came by to do something that I couldn’t manage on my own. He is older and dropped everything to rush over for me. Days later, he was telling everyone he was fabulous because I said so. He told me he had no one call him that before. It made me feel good that I had made him feel good.

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  1. I’m so glad (and proud of you) that you’re talking about mental illness. It’s a struggle I face, too. Although I don’t think it’s necessary to talk about in all instances, I do feel like it needs more discussion in society. I’ve learned some of the lessons you have- working on some of them. The power of no is HUGE!

    1. Thank you so much Katy! Talking about needs to happen more and I couldn’t agree with you more about the power of No. Most people don’t seem to understand the power of that small word.

  2. Yes it took me awhile to say No to people . I also agree that I try to be kind always because you never know what that other person is going through.

  3. I hear you, girl. My normal is so different from other people’s. And I too have smiled through the most awful times. Keep going. 🙂

    1. I’ve struggled with mental illness all my life. Thank you for having the courage in sharing your story. It makes people like me feel more accepting of myself.

  4. I agree with you that kindness, just small kindnesses from people, really help in stressful situations. I try to make it a practice to give a person compliments when I think them. I used to just keep my thoughts in my head.

    1. I did too but like you have found that sharing the compliment means so much to people. I saw something on Instagram the other day that made me smile. Someone said their daughter and her friend were outside giving compliments to anyone who walked by. Things like, I love how your shirt matches your dog’s leash. Silly compliments from children but I can only imagine how much it made those receiving them smile.

  5. I have found everyone of these to be true in my own life and how my mental illness has brought challenging times and one time or another. Because of it, I feel that I am more genuine and empathetic because of it. Everyone has struggles at times and being a beacon of light to those that need it is what I strive to do. Thanks for this post.

    1. You are so welcome Christy. It does make you more genuine and empathetic. It’s much easier now to see the problems of others or at least be able to suspect they are going through more than I know.

  6. I’m so glad to see you being open about this! There is such a stigma around mental illness, and yet so many people are battling it!

  7. Oh, I try to do good and stuff you know but if I’m having a bad day I don’t even try to fake it. I know they say do it for others but America is such a selfish nation why should I be different. If they don’t like me cause sometimes I’m miserable I’m gonna put the be happy campaign right back on them. I’m greedy too you know.

  8. This was a very good article and had a lot of good information in it. Thank you for sharing it with us!

  9. I’m so glad that in 2020 we are at least beginning to discuss mental illness and try to break away from any negative stigma it may have. We have a long way to go but at least it is now open for discussion in some social circles.

  10. Hi Rita,

    I just wanted to tell you that I think that your piece that you wrote on mental health is a spot on and great work with writing it. I used to work in the Mental Health Field for over 13+ years and I loved it but it finally got the best of me and I had to stop doing it in order to save not only myself from what I call the side effects of doing this everyday giving my 100% self to helping others get the help that they needed and in doing so it started taking a toll on my own mental health and affecting my family life, that was almost ten years now and I still miss it dearly.
    Anyhow I also wanted to ask you how your first month of the launching of the GodFitnessMentalhealth went or how has it been going? Expected, more then expected or just what you thought? I love to hear any good news with mental health and having more out there for people to get that help that they need and for it to be easy and accessible for all, so I hope it’s beyond expectations!!!

    I Wish You All The Luck with this Endeavor and Journey !

  11. I can relate so much to what you are saying. I have been struggling with mental illness for 25 years now. I truly believe in showing kindness to others. I have felt what it is like for someone to show me a small kindness and I try to do the same for others. I still struggle with saying no, but I’m working on it. I try to find humor in things instead of letting it get me down. I tell my daughter that there is no “normal”, she isn’t weird, everyone has their own issues but you don’t see someone else’s til you live with them. I still smile to hide the pain most every day.

  12. Those are some great lessons. Dealing with mental illness definitely teaches us strength. We also learn that “normal” really doesn’t exist.

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