Today is World Mental Health Day and this is something very close to my heart because for as long as I can remember, I’ve been battling against it.
This post isn’t about my battle mental illness however (you can read about that here), this post is about how I’ve used it to make me a better and stronger person. This post is about me fighting mental illness and winning!
Over the past few years I’ve seen a monumental shift when it comes to the stigma of mental illness. That isn’t to say it isn’t still there, but things are changing. People are becoming more open about their mental illness battles, medical professionals are taking it more seriously and with that more and more people are fighting against mental illness and winning!
At the beginning of 2015 I decided to go to battle with my mental illness and faced it head on. I found a counsellor and together we worked through a number of traumatic and upsetting experiences that I’ve faced during my life. As I began to put my behaviours to different labels, found their source and then worked through them one by one, I began to feel lighter. It was like a weight had been lifted and a light had suddenly pinged on in my head. I stopped letting my mental illness control me and instead began to focus on becoming the best version of myself.
I became incredibly aware of how important self-care is, I began to practice daily meditation, rekindled my love of yoga, joined a gym and when combined it centred me. I became a better mother, a better girlfriend, a better writer and a better friend. That decision to find a counsellor that could help me, that decision changed my life. So much so it made me realise what I wanted to do as a career.
Nearly two years on from that decision I’m still battling mental illness every day, but now, now I’m winning. It no longer controls me, it no longer stops me being the best version of myself and most importantly now it spurs me on to help others do the same. My mental illness drove me to start studying counselling, I’m now nearly halfway through my first course and moving closer and closer to my masters in counselling with each passing week.
Studying counselling has actually made me realise just how important it is to be listened to, to be given the opportunity to find our own answers through life. I now view counselling as something that is just as important to do when dealing with day to day stresses as it is when there is something specific a person wants to work through.
I look back to myself nearly two years ago, when I felt completely numb one day and overwhelmed with emotion the next. When I felt like I couldn’t leave my house for weeks on end because anxiety stopped me from turning the key. The idea that my mental illness could actually be the making of me, would have been laughable back then. But despite it seeming so ridiculous, it has been. Mental illness has been the making of me.
I don’t know if I will ever be ‘cured’ of self-doubt or anxiety, but I know that with every passing day, I’m becoming stronger than it. I’m battling it and I am winning. I know not everyone will have a success story, but I’m hell-bent on being on the front lines and helping them try. Mental illness should no longer be hidden behind closed doors, it should be brought out into the open and fought against. Because we can’t beat a monster we refuse to admit exists.