Things People with Mental Illness Should Stop Doing

Through a fibro blog I read, I came across 30 things to stop doing to yourself and its adaptation 16 things fibromyalgia sufferers need to stop doing. I am going to adapt this list for people with mental health conditions.

  1. Stop running from your problems. This one may seem obvious, but oftentimes, people with mental health problems go on and on until they crash. It is not like your mental health condition isn’t there if you run from it. We aren’t supposed to avoid all unhappiness and hurt. Rather, confront your problems and learn to accept them, adapt to them or solve them.
  2. Stop lying to yourself. Again, your mental illness or life challenge won’t disappear if you pretend it isn’t there. Like the author of the original list says, the first and hardest chance we can take in life is to be honest with ourselves. There is this idea in some forms of therapy, notably dialectical behavior therapy, that change and acceptance go hand in hand. In other words, you won’t change if you don’t face the truth.
  3. Stop putting your own needs on the back burnder. Having needs is human and normal. Everyone has a need for acceptance, safety, nurturing, etc. As mentally ill people, we often get taught that these needs are not normal because we may expresss them in unconventional ways. Stop thinking that just because you’re told that you do stuff “for attention”, it’s wrong to need attention. On a related note, stop thinking that taking good care of yourself is wrong.
  4. Stop trying to be someone you’re not. You may want to live without your mental illness, but that doesn’t mean you’ll become someone else in the process of recovery. Recovery is about becoming the best you you can be. It is a challenge to be yourself in a wolrd that reinforces conformity, but it is a challenge worth taking on.
  5. Stop holding onto the past. Trauma may’ve shaped your life and may’ve even caused your mental health problem, but you cannot change the past. I disagree with the origninal article’s statement that you shouldn’t be thinking much about your past, but don’t use it as an excuse to keep wishing for a new past. Work on processing feelings that come up in the present.
  6. Stop exclusively looking to others for happiness. You are responsible for your own life. While support people or professionals can help you, they will not solve your problems.
  7. Stop thinking you’re not ready. This thought will often become a self-fulfilling prophecy. No-one, including no currently mentally healthy person, feels 100% ready when they need to step outside of their comfort zone, but it take sstepping outside of your comfort zone to recover.
  8. Stop complaining and feeling sorry for yoruself. I disagree with Julie Ryan, the fibro blogger, saying that whining for five minutes without involving friends is okay, and the rest is not. In fact, it can help to whine to an understanding peer sometimes. Where I agree, is that it needs to stop.
  9. Stop wasitng time explaining yourself to others. As Julie says, most people won’t care enough to listen. Just assert yourself. If people are close to you, it may be helfpul to explain your mental health condition, but to people you casually meet, a simple “No” should be enough.
  10. Stop overlooking the beauty of small moments. It’s often in the little things that we find that glimpse of happiness. My classical culture teacher in high school once said that there is only one moment in your entire life that you can be happy, and that’s now.
  11. Stop acting like everythign is fine if it isn’t. No, you aren’t okay. You’re depressed, anxious, having dark thoughts or otherwise suffering. While you shouldn’t wallow in self-fity, as said before, you shoudln’t lie to yourself either. You may need to put up a smile for a bit when with people who won’t accept your mental illness, but among friends and especially with your mental health professional, it’s okay and even helpful to be sincere.
  12. Stop trying to be everything to everyone. Doing so is impossible, and trying will only burn you out (if it hasn’t alreaady). Try to take the chance to make small contributions to people’s lives instead.
  13. Stop worrying so much. It may be especially hard when you have a mental illnes, but cognitive therapy is effective for a reason: you can change your thought processes. Worrying will not strip tomorow of its burdens, as the original article says, but it will strip today of its joys.
  14. Stop focusng on what you don’t want to happen. Focus on what you do want to happen instead. This is going to foster an attitude of goal-setting rather than one of avoidance, and this will help you a long way along your recovery.
I didn’t include all of the original items. With some, like the commandment to stop spending time with the wrong people, I disagree (there are no wrong people). Others I did not feel were too applicable to mental health recovery. I probably could add some more items to this list, too, but for now I won’t.

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