Last time when I wrote about the idea that your diagnosis doesn’t mean your life is ending, I talked about the fact that there’s still life after such a life-altering change. How do you find the hope to go on, though?
For me there were several factors that were involved. I was lost after I was diagnosed. I didn’t know what to do with myself, and I was in a constant state of frustration and anxiety because I had little basis in my life for doing anything, and I wanted so badly to have something to do with my time. In that frustration I came back to writing, which I had done since I was a little kid. It took a lot of encouragement on my family’s part to get back into it because I thought that I wouldn’t be able to do it again after such a shift. I thought I had lost my creativity when I started taking meds, but slowly I started to sit back down and get back into it.
I learned that you need several things to find hope for your mental illness, though. You need your enjoyment, you need encouragement, and you need time. Basically, there’s probably something you’ve always enjoyed doing, something that you could do for hours while the world passed by and you didn’t have to think about anything.
For some people it’s drawing; for some people it could be building something. It may be different for everyone, but if you think hard enough you can probably come back to that nugget of joy, that thing that has never seemed like work to you. You need to focus on that; you need to start doing it again regardless of the fact that you may not feel like doing it, but you need to do it and once you get back into it you will probably see that while it may be different than what you remember, it still sparks that flow and that joy you used to have while doing it.
The second thing you need is encouragement to keep it up. Along with any support structure comes the encouragement to do the thing you’d like to do. You have people that have your back, that have your best interests in mind, and they will help you. They will guide you back into the regularity of doing the thing you love doing, and they’ll give you a nugget of hope through their words about how good you are at it and how you’ve always found solace in your activity.
The third thing you need to find hope for your mental illness, again, is time: you need to give yourself plenty of time to both recover and wrap your head around what your new life with mental illness means. You need to learn the ins and outs of dealing with your symptoms and the things you struggle with. You need to have time, too, for building something meaningful. You can take your experiences and the things you’ve had to deal with and create something nice.
The things you have to remember in all of this is that getting back up on the horse and seeing the sunset means giving things time, being patient with yourself, and giving yourself any amount of time you need to get things back in order. Once you do, you’ll begin to see the hope that comes with meaningful work and habits. You’ll get back to normal again, I promise; it just takes time, creativity, and encouragement.