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  • Writer's pictureOutlaw Angel

Mental Health: Recovery & Community

Finding Community is a Challenge

Even within the mental health community, finding a place where you fit, feel comfortable, have support and keep growing - that can be exhausting. Mentors who are on solid trajectories can suddenly become off target, therapists retire, insurance changes and friends/family run out of patience for your particular challenges. What do you do next?

Learn that you are your own first defense

There is no one who has the capacity to understand you better than yourself. Mastering the delicate balance between holding yourself accountable and granting yourself grace is a huge component to building, sustaining and contributing to your community. A community requires a participant to do all these things to various degrees.

Stop believing the hype - yours and theirs

If you hit the “love” button on any meme that said, “If all you did in 2023 was survived, that’s good enough” you are stuck in your own hype. Dig deeper and I am positive you did more than “survive”. If you believe that you have to be medicated, treated, and/or on disability the rest of your life because of a mental illness you are stuck in their hype. Yes, there are cases where you will not fit into the “normal” 40 hour work week, white picket fence, 2.3 children and a dog scenario but I have yet to meet a single person who fit neatly into that category. You’ve never been average, normal or mainstream - why keeping aiming for someone else’s version of you?

Discover your vision and own it

If your vision of yourself includes a healthier financial situation (goodbye to bankruptcy) and you are in the drive through coffee line often, you haven’t committed yourself to this goal. What does your vision of yourself look like? If you want healthier relationships, you have to learn to not only treat yourself better but understand your impact on those around you and set out to improve both. It is difficult to lovingly sit with yourself and assess your role in where you are today. Yes, there are other people and instances that helped set you on this path but it is ultimately only you who will determine the outcome. Take ownership - you have the right, responsibility and power to do so.

Still depressed, exhausted and angry

There are many more people living in recovery from mental illness than I ever understood. It is not easy but the cliche is absolutely correct: Nothing worth doing is easy. I am generally my biggest obstacle. I get angry at the system which is really me being lazy about my own recovery because it is so much easier to be angry at something else, complain about it, throw up my hands and continue to be miserable than it is to face the fact that I am again exhausted, angry, depressed and not “cured”. The vital difference here is where I give my power. In the “it’s their fault” scenario, all the power resides external to me, out of my control. 99% of the world is outside of my control but what I chose to think about, what I chose to give my attention to is 100%, always within my control, even when I am depressed, exhausted or angry.

I chose the 100% option. Yes, I will always likely have negative thoughts and feelings. The amount of time I spend with them lessens year after year. I don’t lose months or years to something a family member or friend said. I acknowledge how I feel, I assess how to set boundaries with that person and I refocus myself as quickly as possible back to forward progress: starting the laundry, visiting the library, walking in nature. I encourage myself to take action, I try to leave judgement out of the conversation.

Negative is a gateway to positive

Negative thoughts are cues, they are gifts to me that I am not living in alignment with my version of a healthy life. If I am stomping around the house, angry - something is obviously bothering me. I have to stop and think back, dig into where that thought energy is coming from. Sometimes, those clues are physical. If my throat is tight, I’ve likely not spoken up when I should have. An example is saying yes when I should have said no or saying, “Whatever you think” when I really had my own thought but kept it quiet. Often when I am angry and it radiates from my ribcage, it’s because I’ve treated someone poorly (didn’t have patience when I could have or didn’t help when I had the opportunity because I was in a hurry).

Each of us has the key and the ability to unlock the life we live. You are already doing it every day - maybe it’s time you picked a different key.

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