One of the most difficult things about living with a mental illness is learning to accept it and admitting to ourselves and others that we have mental health struggles.
This is because we live in a world where seeking help or being diagnosed with a mental illness is thought of by most of society as being a weakness or other negative beliefs. The shame many of us feel when we need support or get diagnosed with a mental illness can make it difficult to accept the reality of it and take the proper steps to get the help we need to live a healthy balanced life.
Here are some examples of things that may be hard to accept, but are important nonetheless:
1. Accept that being open about your mental illness doesn’t make you weak or melodramatic.
Mental health stigma is a very real problem in our world today. It almost feels as if stigma is an acceptable form of discrimination.
This makes it difficult for many of us to accept that we need help and take the steps to get that help. The negativity surrounding mental health oftentimes even causes individuals to stigmatize themselves.
I recommend focusing on what’s within your control. Doing this isn’t an easy task but when you learn to master this skill, it’s very empowering.
In addition, focus on learning the difference between mental health facts and fiction.
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2. Medication is helpful and big pharma isn’t perfect but it helped millions of people live better lives.
When you take the proper medication for the proper condition as directed by your doctor, pharmacist or therapist/psychiatrist, medication can be life-changing and helpful.
Many of us struggle to accept that medication is helpful and either stop taking it or refuse to take it as directed by your doctor. One of the main reasons for this is how our media makes medication out as being more harmful than helpful.
My best advice is to accept medication as being helpful by recognizing and acknowledging your fears and hesitations about medication.
And, if you have any issues with your medication, please mention them to your doctor or pharmacist as soon as possible because as helpful as medication can be, there’s also the potential for negative side effects.
3. Unless you acknowledge your mental health issues, you’ll never get closure with those issues.
A few months ago I was reading Best Self by Mike Bayer and one quote resonated with me: “You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.”
Psychology is a very complicated science and we need to accept our issues. And one part of acceptance is acknowledgment.
Think of mental illness like a metaphorical snowball that gets bigger as it rolls down a hill. Your diagnosis is the tiny snowball at the top of the hill, and as that snowball rolls down the hill, it gets larger.
Each new layer of that metaphorical snowball represents another psychological issue caused by not dealing with the original issue.
By the time that metaphorical snowball reaches the bottom, it’s a lot bigger, just like the snowball increasing in size. Your psychological issues get larger and more complex, which makes it more difficult to get to the core issue. This is because instead of dealing with only the original issue, you’re dealing with multiple issues
4. Accept that you are not perfect and making mistakes or struggling is a part of being human.
Many people in today’s world don’t like to focus on their weaknesses or get frustrated when they struggle, which causes them to avoid their struggles or obstacles or to give up
To me, mistakes are an opportunity to learn a more effective approach for overcoming that obstacle. Use mistakes as lessons instead of a reason to put yourself down.
Look at what’s within your control to improve and get proper support for the rest.
5. The “glass is half full/half empty“ approach to issues is actually counterproductive.
Today’s world throws around a lot of generic feel-good statements about how positivity is the best way to get ahead in life.
When an individual focuses just on the positive it can be toxic. This is because when you don’t deal with both the good and the bad things life throws your way, you’re taking a very unrealistic approach to life, which will only set you up for disappointment due to your unrealistic expectations.
To me, a positive approach isn’t about just looking on the bright side of life. It’s about dealing with everything life throws your way–the good along with the bad.
When you take this approach, it leads to positive changes and helps you get a stronger sense of self and it helps you build healthy coping skills.
Lastly here is a great quote that defines the meaning of acceptance:
“When we accept ourselves for what we are, we decrease our hunger for power or the acceptance of others because our self-intimacy reinforces our inner sense of security. We are no longer preoccupied with being powerful or popular. We no longer fear criticism because we accept the reality of our human limitations. Once integrated, we are less often plagued with the desire to please others because simply being true to ourselves brings lasting peace. We are grateful for life and we deeply appreciate and love ourselves.” -Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel
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