Mental health includes one’s emotional, social, and psychological well-being. It affects how individuals think, feel, and act as they cope with life.
Mental health also helps determine how individuals handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.
People sometimes use the term mental health to mean the absence of a mental disorder, like depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and dementia.
Aside from individual attributes, determinants of mental health and mental disorders include social, cultural, economic, political, and environmental factors.
How to Achieve and Maintain Mental Health
Mental Health America gives tips to boost one’s mental health. These recommendations include (1).
Get a good night’s sleep. Not getting 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep can adversely influence one’s outlook on life, energy level, motivation, and emotions, says SleepFoundation.org (2).
The correlation between sleep and mood has been seen over and over by researchers and doctors. Individuals with insomnia have increased levels of depression and anxiety.
These individuals are ten times as likely to have clinical depression and 17 times as likely to have clinical anxiety (3).
Eat foods that may improve alertness and brain power, such as coffee and chocolates that contain flavonoids, caffeine, and theobromine known to help with brain function.
Increase omega-3 fatty acids in the diet. Inadequate intakes of omega-3 fatty acids lead to deficits in neurogenesis and altered learning (4).Neurogenesis is the process by which new neurons are formed in the brain.
Get involved in activities that may help reduce symptoms of stress, depression, and anxiety, such as dancing, spending time with pets, coloring, and taking time to laugh.
How CBD Can Help With Mental Health
The therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids, like CBD, are realized by their interaction with the body’s ECS and its specialized cannabinoid receptors.
CB1 receptors play a role in motor regulation, memory processing, appetite, pain sensation, sleep, and mood (5).
Interestingly, a study highlighted the reality that personality is swayed by an individual’s current mood, especially when he or she is feeling down emotionally(6).
There have been other studies conducted to understand the anti-anxiety characteristics of CBD better.
CBD’s potential for anxiety relief is also linked to its ability to help with sleep problems, reduce stress, and manage depression.
In 2015, Esther Blessing, Ph.D. of New York University, led a group of researchers and examined the benefits of CBD in helping with anxiety. The team’sreview of 49 studies yielded promising results (7).
Blessing noted that the animal studies conclusively demonstrated CBD’s efficacy in reducing anxiety behaviors linked to multiple disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Blessing added that the findings are supported by human experimental findings, which also suggest CBD’s minimal sedative effects and an excellent safety profile.
Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), another active compound of the cannabis plant, CBD (cannabidiol), is non-addictive and does not induce a euphoric high, making it an appealing option for most people dealing with anxiety.
Among several other health benefits, CBD is known to be useful in dealing with anxiety.
For individuals who deal with insomnia, studies suggest that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep(8).
A 2018 study published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology demonstrated CBD as a potential remedy to depression (9).
In the study, researchers examined the experimental and clinical use of CBD and found that it showed anti-anxiety, antiepileptic, and antipsychotic properties that might help reduce depression linked to stress.
CBD products made with hemp-derived extract can also be beneficial to people looking to maintain mental health.
Full-spectrum CBD hemp extracts contain flavonoids, the natural compounds responsible for the vivid colors in most plants.
Flavonoids are now considered as an indispensable component in a variety of medicinal and cosmetic applications due to their antioxidative (keeps cells healthy), anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties (10).
Full-spectrum CBD oil also has Omega-3 fatty acids, which could have an anti-inflammatory effect on the brain and help cognitive function.
A study in the journal Lipids in Health and Disease demonstrated that omega-3 fatty acids could be a useful agent for treating depression (11).
Studies have shown that CBD may help maintain and improve mental health through its sleep-inducing, anti-anxiety, and anti-inflammatory characteristics, which can positively impact mood, personality, and general state of well-being.
These properties also help alleviate symptoms linked to mental disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and stress.
Furthermore, CBD’s non-psychoactive property makes it a safe alternative to pharmaceuticals. CBD’s active components, including essential Omega-3 fatty acids and flavonoids, making it useful in keeping one’s mental health in check.
CBD products come in different forms, like tincture, gummies, salves, patches, or lotions.
Before using CBD or any CBD products as a brain-boosting supplement or as a remedy for specific symptoms or medical conditions, consult with a doctor experienced in cannabis use for advice.
MHA. 31 Tips To Boost Your Mental Health. Retrieved from https://www.mhanational.org/31-tips-boost-your-mental-health.
SleepFoundation.org. The Complex Relationship Between Sleep, Depression & Anxiety. Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/excessive-sleepiness/health-impact/complex-relationship-between-sleep-depression-anxiety.
SleepFoundation.org. The Complex Relationship Between Sleep, Depression & Anxiety. Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/excessive-sleepiness/health-impact/complex-relationship-between-sleep-depression-anxiety.
Innis SM. Dietary omega 3 fatty acids and the developing brain. Brain Res. 2008;1237:35–43. DOI:10.1016/j.brainres.2008.08.078.
ECHO. (2017, April 18). Retrieved from https://echoconnection.org/look-endocannabinoid-systems-cb1-cb2-receptors/.
Querengässer, J., & Schindler, S. (2014). Sad but true? - How induced emotional states differentially bias self-rated Big Five personality traits BMC Psychology, 2 (1) DOI: 10.1186/2050-7283-2-14
Blessing EM, Steenkamp MM, Manzanares J, Marmar CR. Cannabidiol as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders. Neurotherapeutics. 2015;12(4):825–836. DOI: 10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1.
Grinspoon P. (2019, Aug 27). Cannabidiol (CBD) — what we know and what we don’t. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cannabidiol-cbd-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont-2018082414476.
Crippa JA, Guimarães FS, Campos AC, Zuardi AW. Translational Investigation of the Therapeutic Potential of Cannabidiol (CBD): Toward a New Age. Front Immunol. 2018;9:2009. Published 2018 Sep 21. DOI:10.3389/fimmu.2018.02009.
Panche AN, Diwan AD, Chandra SR. Flavonoids: an overview. J Nutr Sci. 2016;5:e47. Published 2016 Dec 29. DOI:10.1017/jns.2016.41
Logan AC. Omega-3 fatty acids and major depression: a primer for the mental health professional. Lipids Health Dis. 2004;3:25. Published 2004 Nov 9. DOI:10.1186/1476-511X-3-25.
1) You are not selfish for taking care of yourself.
2) You are not lazy, you are ill.
3) You are not arrogant for loving yourself.
4) It is okay to feel sad, but it is not okay to let the sadness win.
5) Your worth is not defined by someone loving or not loving you.
6) Sometimes not giving into your addictions will make you feel worse in that moment than if you had given in, but honestly, the worst days in recovery are better than the best days in relapse.
7) A healthy person does not wish to be sicker. There is no such thing as “not sick enough.”
8) It is okay to be alone every once in a while.
9) You do not need to be perfect, just do the best you can.
10) A bad day does not equal a bad life.
11) Do not put all of your happiness into one person. Ultimately, you have to be your own hero.
12) Numbing the pain for a while will only make it worse when you finally feel it.
13) Eating does not mean you are weak.
14) Not eating does not mean you are strong.
15) The words ‘f*ck it’ do come in handy once in a while.
16) Your feelings are valid simply because you are feeling them. You do not need to justify yourself.
17) Never feel guilty for being sad because “someone has it worse than you.”
18) People are not perfect. They will offend you, hurt you and let you down from time to time, but this can be from lack of understanding; it does not mean that they do not love you.
19) You are not a burden.
20) You have to learn to love yourself before you can fully love someone else.
21) Do not let your illness define or limit you.
22) Do not be afraid to walk away from toxic relationships/friendships.
23) Do the things you love. Every. Single. Day.
24) It is okay to be different.
25) Be patient, you are a work in progress.
26) Good things can, do, and will happen to you.
27) Recovery is not about being strictly “happy”, it is about learning to become whole.
28) You cannot change the past, but you can learn from it. So stop analyzing it and wondering about what thinking “could have, should have, or would have” been. Learn to let go.
29) Letting go is not a one-time thing. It is something you do every day, over and over again.
30) The bad things people say about you are actually reflections of what they think of themselves, not you.
31) Everything seems worse when it is 3am.
32) You are not worthless, you are priceless.
33) You are allowed to scream and you are allowed to cry, but do not give up.
34) Ultimately it’s only your opinion of yourself that matters. Do what makes YOU happy.
35) Just hang in there because u hella rad.
News from the Field / Prevention & Awareness
“Mad Hatter” Perpetuates Stigma around Mental Illness
October 26, 2016Megan Larson
hand-sign-for-red-carpetThis post speaks candidly about the portrayal of mental illness in popular media and includes stigmatizing language and descriptions to help inform readers about the topic.
In recent years discussion about mental health and awareness about mental illness has been on the rise. The conversation has even found its way into pop culture with musical artists like Sia. However, mental illness still remains a popular trope in pop music, as seen in Melanie Martinez’s new song “Mad Hatter” off her new album Cry Baby. While the song is meant to be Cry Baby’s acceptance of her madness, it instead perpetuates many stereotypes about mental illness.
It plays on the concept of sanity, with its opening notes conjuring up images of an asylum. At its core, the song creates a distinction between those that are “normal” and those that live with a mental health condition, saying “The normal, they make me afraid. The crazies, they make me feel sane.” This is detrimental to the many advocacy efforts that assert that people who live with mental illness are just like everyone else. Calling those with mental health conditions “crazy” perpetuates the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Those with mental illness are characterized as “nuts,” “mad,” and “psycho.” Such language harms those that do live with mental illness.
“I’m nuts, baby, I’m mad,
The craziest friend that you’ve ever had
You think I’m psycho, you think I’m gone
Tell the psychiatrist something is wrong.”
It further establishes an othering effect in which people with a mental health concern should be set apart from the “normal” people in society. It perpetuates the idea that mental illness is contagious and that people with such a condition should be quarantined. Such language labels people on the basis that their emotional experiences deviate from what is considered “normal” and creates a sense that they are lesser. This is particularly true in light of the fact that Melanie Martinez, the artist, is a woman and labels like “crazy” are more frequently applied to women due to their perceived emotional nature and desire for more intimate human connection in an effort to invalidate their emotions.
The way in which mental illness is described in the song makes it synonymous with violence. The actions of the “crazy” in the song are depicted as reckless and cruel, with them “popping balloons with guns” and “[painting] white roses red, each shade from a different person’s head.” There already exists such a strong negative view of mentally ill people being violent, due to the way in which the media discusses mental illness, that these images only further perpetuate that stereotype.
Also within the lyrics is a message that encourages people to go off their psychiatric medication. It tells of being better off and more liked by others when off medication despite something being wrong:
“Tell the psychiatrist something is wrong
Over the bend, entirely bonkers
You like me best when I’m off my rocker.”
This is a dangerous message to be hidden within the lyrics of a pop song, for there can be serious consequences for stopping medication without the oversight and approval of a psychiatrist. It again perpetuates negative stereotypes by claiming it is better to be off medication. Those who do take psychiatric medication already face significant stigma, and the message in the song implies that such medication is unnecessary for people will like you more when you are off your medication.
Potentially worst of all is that all of these messages are intended to make this inaccurate depiction of living with mental illness desirable, stating, “So what if I’m crazy? The best people are.” The title of the song itself is an insult to those with a mental health condition, for “mad as a hatter” is a derogatory phrase. The song “Mad Hatter” by Melanie Martinez solidifies the notion that in our society there are people that are normal and abnormal and everyone must be categorized into these divisions. Social acceptance of mental illness is critically important because discrimination follows stigma. “Mad Hatter” elicits negative views about mental illness and perpetuates harmful stereotypes, contributing to the stigma that surrounds mental illness. Though intended to be a song of acceptance, “Mad Hatter” does not reflect the fact that one in four people experience a mental health concern in a given year and that they are to be viewed and treated no differently than anyone else.
Megan is a chapter leader at Active Minds at UCLA and a member of the Active Minds Student Advisory Committee.
mental health stigma Student Advisory Committee
5 Things you can do to end the stigma surrounding mental illness
By Laura Porter
Today is our day, stigma fighters — it’s National Day Without Stigma! We’ve got five tips for you to help combat the stigma surrounding mental illness today and everyday. Keep up the good work and use these tools to fight stigma on your campus.
Sign the Mental Health Unity Pledge. We’re really excited to unveil today a brand new Active Minds program that seeks to create safe spaces for people to speak openly about mental health. Sign the Pledge and receive a sticker, to hang up in your dorm room or in your car. This will symbolize to other people that it is a safe space to talk about mental illness. Together, we can help create a community where no one is afraid to speak out.
Display your support: Join the National Day Without Stigma movement by getting artsy and chalking positive and supportive messages about mental health to challenge stigma. We also want to hear why you identify as a #stigmafighter. Share with us using the hashtag on social media!
Reach out. The first step of is always the hardest, but getting the right help can improve the lives of people with mental health disorders. If you’re looking for on-campus help, contact your school’s counseling center or health center. If you’re not on campus, you can search for mental health services yourself, call your primary care physician or local hospital, or call 1-800-273-TALK, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Remember to watch your language and encourage others to do so too. We commonly hear the phrases “That’s so crazy!” or “The weather is so bipolar this week!” If you find yourself or someone else saying statements like these, consider how that kind of stigmatizing language discourages people from seeking help.
Also, remember that a person is not defined by his or her mental health disorder, so always put the person first. For example: Suzy has bipolar disorder. Suzy is not bipolar.
Educate those around you about mental illness and the impact of stigma. If you feel comfortable, encourage an open conversation about mental health with specific communities on your campus. Talk to groups, faculty, staff and other students about what “stigma” means and how to work together to challenge that stigma in your communities.
So #stigmafighters, can we count on you this National Day Without Stigma to take action to end discrimination? To educate others about mental health? To speak up, reach out and ask for help? To be the best #stigmafighter you can be?
We thought so!
Date October 6, 2014
Author Laura Porter
Tags national day without stigma, Pledge for Mental Health Unity, stigma
9 Tips to Help Support a Friend with Mental Illness
By Amanda Murray
Supporting a friend with a mental health issue or in a stressful situation can be difficult. Here are 9 simple tips that will help get the conversation started. Read more about how to help a friend.
Choose a suitable time.
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Plan out your message in advance and make it straightforward.
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Be honest and specific. Your friend will value what you have to say.
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Describe what you have been observing (behavior changes, etc.)
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Express how you feel about what you have observed.
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Let your friend have a chance to talk and share their point of view.
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Offer recommendations as to what your friend should do next and help them get educated and connected to resources.
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Follow up to make sure they’re doing ok!
Take care of yourself, and remember not to blame yourself!
For more information about how to help a friend, visit the Active Minds How to Help a Friend page.
Date April 27, 2015
Author Amanda Murray
Tags mental health, self-care
Prevention & Awareness / Student Stories
How Mental Illness Awareness Week Changed My Life
October 19, 2017Tara Maestas
One gesture and my day was ruined. One phrase and I would shut down. Images would flash to the forefront of my mind. I would stop talking. I would stay silent.
In middle school, life is hardly bearable, but even then, I had a secret that made it worse. My brother died by suicide. This secret was a large shadow that seemed to cast itself over my heart. If my friend made the gesture to shoot herself or someone else said that the class they were in made them want to kill themselves, I would fold into my mind with dangerous thoughts: If only they knew what that actually meant… if they knew the pain…
In search of a voice that could say the words I had not in those moments, I found mental illness awareness week. The green ribbon gave me hope. Others were talking about this. It was not just a world of dark family secrets where hushed tones tell you who is bipolar, who is depressed, and who is manic. There were others willing to say what was being silenced and that is why there is a week to speak out.
I bought the ribbon early before school. Setting up shop with my packed lunch and self-assembly line of green ribbons. I asked any person walking past if they wanted a green ribbon. Most looked at me in a funny way when I explained what it was for. Some grabbed a ribbon to be polite. However, I found those who really stopped and thanked me with their eyes or even a kind phrase, “This is really important.” I nodded, reassuring them that they could trust me with this responsibility. I could pass on this knowledge and for many, I could pass on hope. Hope that they are not alone. Hope that they don’t have to be a family secret or a shadow.
From that point on, every year I have passed out green ribbons for mental illness awareness week. I have kept my tradition, recruiting people no matter where I go. I knew this the first day I moved into the residence halls as a first-year student.
My RA asked, “Is there anything I can do for you?”
I replied, “Yeah! Is it okay if I get a group of students from the floor to pass out ribbons for mental illness awareness week in October? Does the school allow me to do that?”
He stayed silent for a while and then responded, “Celebration at Mines is coming up. Just go find a group called Active Minds and see if they will help you with that. If they don’t, grab some people from the floor.”
I don’t need to mention that advocacy changed my perception, gave me hope, and changed my life. I just need to mention that what I do is important. What we all do is so very important.
When you’re standing in the rain passing out ribbons at a table. When you create a presentation for your meeting only to walk into an empty room. When you ask your professors time and time again to not make things worse for students with illnesses. All of those times matter. Because without those times, you wouldn’t have reached the people you have reached. By getting through the times where there is no support, you have shined a light into another person’s life. I wish someone had been there for me in middle school but it’s okay. I found a green ribbon and that is all I needed to be there for someone else and continue to be there.
Tara is a member of the Active Minds Student Advisory Committee and a chapter leader at Colorado School of Mines. Mental Illness Awareness Week runs through the first full week of October every year.
How to Manage Physical and Mental Illness at University
August 28, 2017August 28, 2017Anaclare Sullivan
At around twelve years old, I was diagnosed with a chronic neurologic condition that causes severe pain and cognitive symptoms. This seems like a negative, but truthfully, having a diagnosis is a huge relief and I’m grateful. It took a lot of persistence and family support to find a physician who truly listened to what I had to say. My disease is considered an invisible disability, and even now, nearly ten years later, it continues to have a serious impact on my daily life. Managing my physical health took so much effort that taking care of my mental health always got pushed aside. This meant that it took until the time I started college for my anxiety behaviors to be diagnosed as obsessive-compulsive disorder. Around this time, it became clear that I also had post-traumatic stress disorder, although I rarely spoke about it.
Sometimes it feels as though it is only acceptable to have one problem at a time. I can be physically ill today, or I can be mentally ill – I can’t be both. The problem is, I am. Our diagnoses don’t take days off. We can’t get stuck in the trap of constantly giving one condition higher priority, because your mind and your body depend on each other. It’s been ten years of trying to find a balance, but as I enter my last year of college, I feel as though I finally have at least some of it figured out.
Be Your Loudest Advocate
When you’re dealing with more than one diagnosis, coordinating with your treatment team is important. It can be tempting when you go to a new doctor to “accidentally” leave a mental health diagnosis off your medical history, or to “forget” to write down that you take antidepressants. Don’t do it. I know firsthand that there’s a lot of stigma attached to saying “I have a mental illness” and that it only gets harder to say when you’re a young person living with chronic pain. We’re afraid that our physical symptoms will be dismissed on account of our anxiety, or that a self-reported pain scale won’t be taken seriously because we have depression, and with depression can come body aches. The short answer is that a doctor who dismisses your concerns isn’t a doctor worth seeing. You know best how you feel, and you need to be your loudest advocate. Without a thorough medical history, you’re putting yourself at risk. Symptoms can overlap, medications can have a wide variety of side effects, combinations of prescriptions can have serious interactions, your mental health can exacerbate your physical health, and vice versa.
At face value, another college student getting poor sleep might not seem like a big deal. Unfortunately, post-traumatic stress disorder has had a serious impact on my ability to sleep and poor sleep is a guaranteed way to make my neurologic symptoms worse. It’s a vicious cycle: I don’t sleep because I’m anxious, I get physically ill because I didn’t sleep, I don’t sleep because I’m ill, then I just get more stressed out, and repeat. Therefore one of my priorities when working with physicians is always to keep my PTSD under control, so that it doesn’t interfere with my sleep. A proper night of sleep means that I’m less likely to start a day with neurologic issues and that I’m also better prepared to handle any triggers that might come up.
I cannot stress how important it is to stay on top of things, especially if you have a condition that can fluctuate in terms of severity. While it might be feasible (although not advisable) for my roommate to put off writing a paper until the night before it’s due, for me, that would be a recipe for disaster. My physical health can go from fine to needing a trip to the emergency department in a matter of hours. If I wait until the last minute to study or complete an assignment, there’s a risk that I will be too sick to accomplish it. On the occasions when this has happened, my anxiety skyrockets, which makes feeling better and getting anything done impossible.
The best way of keeping this from occurring is to try and schedule out when things need to be done. Try keeping a planner, journal, or to-do list. I tend to divide my tasks based on priority and color code to-do lists, which helps me budget my time appropriately. Breaking larger tasks into small tasks (ex. “Write a paper” becomes decide on a topic, look for sources, create an outline, write one paragraph, and so on) can be helpful on days when you’re feeling especially low energy but can’t fall behind on work. Even if the tasks need to be as small as “write one sentence,” that’s one more sentence than you had to start with. If you are struggling to accomplish things, it’s the time to reach out for help.
Use Your Resources
On my campus, I receive support from the university disabilities office so that I can make the most of my education. Some of my accommodations are designed to help manage my mental health, while others are in place for my disability. These accommodations are considered part of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and make sure that disabled students are on equal ground with their abled counterparts. If you know you’re struggling or have specific concerns about the accessibility of your education, talk it over with your treatment team and take their recommendations to your university’s disabilities office. Unsure what office covers disability resources at your school? Try contacting the university intercessor or equal opportunity compliance director, and they should be able to point you in the right direction.
Anaclare currently attends the University of Rochester and serves on the Active Minds Student Advisory Committee.
I Am Not My Mental Illness
By Zaria Hampton
I loved school like most “smart kids” do. Nothing was too difficult until the end of my junior year of high school when I began to gain some weight.
A few of my friends had started using MyFitnessPal so I decided to download it. Though it was just an app, I soon felt like every time I logged a meal, I was disappointing it. I became terrified of messing up and eating more than the voice in my head was telling me to. Soon the app became the least of my worries.
By the time I started college at the University of Georgia in 2014, I was overwhelmed with depression and suicidal thoughts. I remember telling myself that I would rather be sick and thin than happy and fat. My life was out of control. No one was paying attention to how long I was at the gym or how infrequently I ate. I hid my eating disorder because I was ashamed.
My sophomore year, I joined Active Minds at UGA and gained the strength to seek therapy. My fellow chapter members and I speak out about mental health issues, and for me it’s very personal.
I speak because just as I should not be ashamed to say I had an eating disorder, I should not be ashamed to say how I got better. I speak because there is beauty in every form of recovery. I speak because getting help is more important than the stigma that comes with it.
Help me and my chapter eliminate the stigma that causes so much suffering. Speak out today by donating to Active Minds this holiday season.
Date December 8, 2015
Author Zaria Hampton
Tags donate, eating disorders, holiday
Three Things I Learned by Fighting Mental Illness
By Emily Ahlin
Emily is a member of the Active Minds Student Advisory Committee and a chapter leader at the University of Pittsburgh. Learn more about the Student Advisory Committee.
emilyThree and a half years ago, I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder and a not-otherwise-specified mood disorder. While that sounds scary, it was actually great – my diagnosis helped me to realize that the ruminating thoughts I experienced daily and lack of short-term memory were caused by a disease, when before, I didn’t understand where they were coming from. And as I learned what it meant to live with this diagnosis on a daily basis, I learned a lot of really valuable lessons on the way.
However, I want to be very clear in stating that I am in no way trying to glorify mental illness. If a fairy came to me and told me they could take away my mental illnesses with a swish of their wand, I would jump almost immediately. But, to the best of my knowledge, fairies don’t exist. Mental illnesses still do, and the people that experience these diseases have to learn how to cope with them. This is a big challenge, but it can be overcome and one can learn a lot from it. As I said earlier, I did.
So, here are three things I learned by fighting against mental illness. This is not an exhaustive list, and it could be different for each person and their experience with mental illness. My goal in sharing this list is to show anyone who reads this that an experience with mental illness doesn’t have to be limiting and that people can and do get better and stronger.
A. A. Milne was right: “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
While you might not know who A.A. Milne is right off the top of your head, you most likely do know one of his most beloved characters – Winnie the Pooh. Milne gave this quote to Pooh’s very best friend, Christopher Robin, and Christopher Robin said it to inspire Pooh and tell him that he would be okay even without Christopher Robin. By doing this, Christopher Robin inspired Pooh to be resilient – to adapt to and overcome adverse life situations.
As I think back to my darkest days with my illnesses, when recovery seemed to be an impossible task and everything was hopeless, I realize that in that time, I learned how to be resilient. I didn’t know what was going to happen next, but I endured it and learned that good and bad times will come and go but that each can be overcome. Now, I apply this skill to all sorts of unpleasant situations – like approaching deadlines for difficult projects or being really busy at work. It helps me remain mindful and know that I can and will make it through whatever difficulty I might meet.
Hugs are AwesomeHUGS
Without getting too much into science, because I don’t study that, hugs are capable of boosting serotonin levels in the brain, which is great for helping people cope with things like depression. On a personal note, I remember many a night sitting up, wishing that someone could give me a bear hug – for a while, that was one of my biggest wishes. Just a bear hug (by the way, I still really like bear hugs a lot).
Now, I’ve learned from the experience I had that whether people verbalize it or not, we all like bear hugs. So when I’m listening to a friend, or someone I know is struggling with something, I ask them if they would like a hug. To date, I don’t remember anyone ever telling me no, and that’s because hugs are awesome. (Side note: You should always ask someone if they want a hug and if they say no, respect their space. It doesn’t mean they don’t like you or your hugs. They just don’t want one right now). Little serotonin boosts don’t solve mental illnesses, but they help make living with them easier.
Success is relative
One of my favorite authors is G.K. Chesterton. He’s got a great essay titled “The Fallacy of Success” in a collection of essays called All Things Considered, and a great quote from the great essay is as follows (emphasis added):
“On every bookstall, in every magazine, you may find works telling people how to succeed. They are books showing men how to succeed in everything; they are written by men who cannot even succeed in writing books. To begin with, of course, there is no such thing as Success. Or, if you like to put it so, there is nothing that is not successful. That a thing is successful merely means that it is; a millionaire is successful in being a millionaire and a donkey in being a donkey…It is perfectly obvious that in any decent occupation (such as bricklaying or writing books) there are only two ways (in any special sense) of succeeding. One is by doing very good work, the other is by cheating. Both are much too simple to require any literary explanation. If you are in for the high jump, either jump higher than anyone else, or manage somehow to pretend that you have done so.”
Chesterton, in the above quote, is saying that success comes from simply doing what you are meant to do – “success” doesn’t have to mean that you accomplished something lofty and grandiose. While it can, we can also take pride in the little things we accomplish each day. So, if you struggle getting to class on time, and you make it to class on time one day, you were successful – you did what you were meant to do. That’s something to be celebrated! You don’t have to win a Nobel Prize or be elected President of the United States. You just have to be yourself.
That I am successful by being myself is a really difficult lesson I’m still working on learning, but I’ve definitely gotten better at recognizing my own personal successes and their value in that they are what I was meant to achieve. Like the time I got a B in Calculus in high school – I worked really hard for that B and earned it, and I was (and should’ve been) proud of myself even though my friends got A’s. We all achieved what we were supposed to, and we were all successful.
Overall, while I would’ve much rather learned these lessons without having to contend with a mental illness, I’m glad that I was able to learn them and can use them in my life now. They really have helped me grow as a person and cope during the trials of daily life, as well as with the daily consequences of having mental illness.
Date June 15, 2016
Author Emily Ahlin
Tags OCPD, Student Advisory Committee
Prevention & Awareness
What the Holidays Can Be Like With a Mental Illness
December 12, 2017December 20, 2017Active Minds Staff
For many, the holidays season is the best, most joyous time of the year. For others, it’s the opposite.
Living with a mental illness is tough. And it’s even harder when you’re expected to be all happy and jolly, loving life with your friends and family.
It’s hard to explain how an atmosphere of happiness can have a negative impact on people with a mental illness.
So, we spoke to a number of people with such difficulties, and invited them to share how this makes them feel.
The artist Emma Rose illustrated these descriptions, to help us all to understand and be more empathetic toward people struggling with a mental illness – especially at this time of year.
Originally featured on AllClear, which commissioned this project as part of its commitment to raising awareness for mental illnesses and those who live with them.