It’s May and Spring is in the air. It’s the time of year when Mother Nature’s work is on her finest display. Buds are popping on trees, tulips are blooming, and everything that has laid dormant over the winter months is waking back up. If you live in a Northern climate, as I do, I know how much you can appreciate this time of year. The winter blahs are gone. It’s time to get out and soak up that Vitamin D
Nicole Lyons is a force of nature disguised as a writer, a social activist, a voice for the downtrodden, and a powerful poet with a delicate touch. She lives a good life in beautiful British Columbia with her brilliant daughters and gorgeous husband. In her free time Nicole volunteers as a speaker and event coordinator with a Canadian non-profit that focuses on suicide awareness and prevention.
Editor: Saad Shaheed
I think it’s a beautiful case of serendipity that May is also the month that we “officially” recognize Mental Health Awareness Month. But recognizing mental health awareness and being mentally healthy and aware are completely different things. I know how difficult it is to live with mental illness; I would never claim that it is an easy road. But, there are things that you can do to make that road a lot less bumpy for yourself, the question is, are you prepared to do the work?
On my Facebook page I get dozens of questions a week, but the most universal question is, “how can I live better with my mental illness?” and my answer boils down to three things:
- Therapy – Talk it out with someone who knows how to listen and offer an objective point of view. I’m not talking about your best friend or your aunt, although talking to them and keeping them in the loop on how you’re feeling is great too. I’m talking about real professional therapy sessions. I can’t tell you enough how much I believe in therapy. I think that at some point in everyone’s life they should attend a therapy session or 8.
- Accountability – Hold yourself accountable for your actions and behaviours, regardless of whether you were in an episode or not. If you behave poorly you need to own that. We’ve all done it, but the key here is to learn from it. No one is perfect, and sometimes when our illness gets the better of us, we make some pretty bad choices, and behave in some pretty unbecoming ways. The second you realize what you’ve done, make amends for it. Own it; don’t use it as an excuse to behave poorly. Mental illness does not give you a right to be a jerk.
- Boundaries – Set them, for you and for others. A lot of times people with mental illness focus on fixing other people instead of working on our own issues, it’s just what we do. This can lead to toxic behaviour. You need to figure out what is healthy for you and then establish that and stick to it. This one can be really hard to do, especially if you have a history of dealing with toxic people. Click here for help on how to establish boundaries.
So there you have it, three things to get you started on the road to finding your balance. It seems simple, but I know it’s not, it took me years to get where I am and even now I struggle at times. It’s not a walk in the park. Every single day I make a choice to embrace my balance. Some days that choice is easy and some days it’s as hard as that tiny bud trying to find it’s way into that ray of sun, but my goodness look at it bloom.