Mental illness is part of every second of my life. Not only do I suffer from depression and anxiety, my oldest son has ADHD and intermittent explosive disorder (IED), and a good friend has borderline personality disorder (BPD). Living with your own is hard enough. When you add other people’s illnesses, well, that’s a whole other ball of wax. But, I think I’ve managed to handle it well. What I’m so sick of is the damn stigma associated with mental illness. Get over it already – it’s a real thing and it needs to be treated as such!

How to Cope with Mental Illness

It’s hereditary or brought about by traumatic events. Double whammy for me because I have both. Over the years, my depression has decreased while my anxiety has increased. My work seems to help me cope because part of my job is to write blog posts for psychiatrists. I learn a lot about mental health, strategies to cope, and how to help others.

My therapist, whom I love dearly, is amazing! I don’t know what I’d do without her. Here’s the kicker though – therapy ONLY works if you’re brutally honest with and about yourself. So many people think therapy is about going in there, talking about your feelings, and having the therapist “fix” you. Please excuse me while I laugh. Therapy is fucking hard! If you’re not ready for it, you won’t get it.

I’ve also learned, in recent months, that exercise helps me feel better. Not just physically, but mentally. It’s better for me when I get outside in the sunshine and semi-fresh air (I live near a lot of farms). Vitamin D works wonders for your health.

How to Help Those You Love

This here is where I get myself in trouble. You see, I’m a fixer. I love helping people and, sometimes, they don’t want my help. When it comes to helping my son, who’s almost 18, it’s really difficult because he’s a teenager who thinks he knows it all. According to him, I’m the dumbest woman walking the face of the Earth. That’s typical of teens so I don’t let it get to me.

Helping my Kid

I’ve been fighting for him since before he was born and I’ll continue to fight for him until I take my last breath. Quite a few years ago, while watching a program on TV, I heard about intermittent explosive disorder (IED). I looked it up on the Mayo Clinic’s website and realized that my kid had many of those symptoms. I printed out the info and took it in during his next therapy session. Unfortunately, it was years later before he was actually diagnosed with the disorder. It really pisses me off how things work because we’ve all gone through hell only to come back to where we started. Once he was properly diagnosed and began his new treatment, things have calmed down a bit.

Helping a Friend

Helping a friend is much different than helping my kid. Obviously, I talk to my friends differently than I talk to my children, but not by much. đŸ˜‰ It’s important to always remember that depression, anxiety, or any other psychiatric disorder is out of that person’s control. When anyone calls me with a problem, I automatically go into “how can we fix this” mode. I’m all about lending a helping hand, or ear, so other people can feel better.

I always offer suggestions, advice, or whatever you want to call it to those who are dealing with something. 9 times out of 10 I’ve been where they are and I advise based on my own experiences. I’m never short of opinions, as everyone close to me knows, so people know I’m going to offer an opinion when they talk to me.

All in All…

The best thing you can do for anyone coping with a mental illness is to be there for them. Never shy away from comforting and supporting them. Learn as much as you can about what they’re dealing with so you have a better understanding. Find alternative methods to help. But, most of all, listen to them…closely. It’s important to pick up on cues if this person is suicidal so you can get them help quickly.