How to Have a Good Day When You Suffer From a Mental Illness

We all experience bad days: those days where you just feel that the world is on your shoulders and you have all the energy of a permanently exhausted pigeon. For people who suffer from depression, anxiety, or a host of other mental health issues, this is not the exception – it’s the rule. It’s about being too tired to get up or having such low motivation that you can’t even think about doing anything other than just lying in the same position forever. This is the daily struggle of someone suffering from a mental illness. Although medication and therapy can and do make a big change in these peoples’ lives, happiness still relies on the person and the choices they make to keep themselves positive, happy, and motivated.

Now please don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that someone with a mental illness should just snap out of it (I know that feeling all too well). What I am saying is that, as with most chronic illnesses and especially depression and other chronic mental health problems, it is a fight for health every day. The moment you give in or decide to just give up on life, you allow the depression to steal just a little bit more of who you are. Whether you are suffering from a mental illness, going through a slump, or just having a bad day, here are a few simple things you can do on a daily basis that will turn those down days into more positive and constructive days.

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Experiencing Mental Illness

We all experience life very differently, but moreover we all express our experiences in different ways. Some are able to talk about their experiences, some write about them and others may even sing about them. Today I would like to share with you a poem that was written by someone who experienced a very sick, mentally ill patient for the first time.

Due to the stigma surrounding mental illness that exists in our society, many of you may think that this is a poem about fear and the unknown, but it is the exact opposite: it is the recognition of the self and the need to be known.

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Frontline Psychiatry

Working in a psychiatric environment can at times be very challenging. This is not only because it is a job which requires a high emotional input, but also because, by the time you meet the patients, they have already been through hell. The closest person they come into contact with at that moment in time may just be the person onto whom their anger and frustration gets released.

But, that being said, these environments are also places of hope. Where the hope (that you may have felt was lost forever) returns. It is a place where your faith in humanity gets restored. It takes a very special type of person with a real passion to pick up that responsibility, whether you are a classic mental health care worker such as a doctor, nurse or therapist, or if you are working behind the scenes to make sure the system keeps running smoothly. Each of these people, through their care, is able to change people’s lives.

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Speak the truth in love

Communication is important in all relationships, whether it is an intimate relationship, a friendship or between colleagues at work. We might never know that we’re doing something to offend another person unless someone points it out to us because according to our way of thinking, we’re not doing anything wrong.

Let me give you an example.  Three of us at Vista Clinic were invited to a school for an appreciation lunch.  I offered that we should all go in my car.  Firstly, I have to say that I am still a loner.  I hardly ever have passengers, even though I have a family car.  But on this day, two of my colleagues were in the car with me and on our way back, one of them said: ‘Deon drives like the busses in Mauritius.  He pulls away with great speed and my head is against the seat, but when he stops my face is on the dashboard!’  The two of them laughed, but I looked at them and asked: Really?
I didn’t know this until she pointed it out to me.  I started to concentrate on what I do while driving, and discovered that it’s true! Now that I am aware of it, I can work on my driving habits in order to become a safer driver.

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How to be the best Valentine this Valentine’s Day.

It is Valentine’s Day… Whoop whoop! So here are a few steps to make sure that you are the best “Valentine” this year.

Step 1: Know it is Valentine’s Day.

Okay, so we have already nailed step one. By this time, your Facebook, e-mails and phone has probably reminded you that it is V-day. If you forgot – no worries! You know now, and the next few steps will help you be the most awesome “Valentine” ever.

Step 2: Forget what you think you know about Valentine’s Day.

The nay-sayers will tell you that Valentine’s Day is only a holiday invented by the greeting card companies and chocolate manufactures to make more money out of you. Furthermore, if you Google Valentine’s Day, you will be surprised by all the legends, tall tales and half-truths. But, the point is, it is about love and celebrating connectedness, so don’t get caught up in the past of what it means or the retail gimmicks – see it for what it is: a celebration of love! And this includes all types of love, be it parental love, friendship, or romantic love.

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let it go!

The first step in letting things go is being able to accept that you need to let them go. For most, this is the problem: we hold on to things so tightly because of an uncontrollable fear. We fear that if we let it go, we would have no idea how to cope anymore. Take anger, for example: every day I work with people who have pent-up anger which they are so eager to get rid of, but when given the opportunity to let go of the anger, most of them don’t. The reason is fairly simple: because when we are angry, we have something to hold on to. It is much like a life raft that keeps us connected to the pain in our life and we believe that by letting it go, we are telling others that what they did to us was okay.

STOP! Letting go does not mean you are weak or you are now somehow putting an “okay” sticker on others’ hurtful behaviour. Letting go means we allow ourselves to move forward. So here are some things you should let go of in 2017.

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Why are you backing down?

In primary school we played a very popular game that we called ‘open the gate.’  Everyone who played along would stand in a row at the end of the field except for one person who would stand in the middle of the field.  If this person called your name, it was up to you to ‘open the gate’. You had to run past him without being caught to the other side of the field. Once you were past him, you had opened the gate for all the others to also run to the other field.  But if you were caught, you also stood in the middle to help catch the others as they ran to join the group in the middle.

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Ways to Keep Yourself Motivated

It is the beginning of the year and, for most people, their motivation is still sky high. You probably have big plans for 2017 and have set New Year’s resolutions up to the kazoo. There is nothing wrong with this, but if the ‘beginning of the year feel’ is the only thing that you are counting on to help you achieve all those goals, well… Then your tank is going to run empty pretty soon, as we are already entering February! So, let’s take the time to look at some ways in which we can keep ourselves motivated, at least for a bit longer than the end of January!

  1. Stay healthy

Something most important to stay motivated is ENERGY, there is no way you will be able to determine your goals when you are always tired or sick. Therefore, make sure that you get your 8 hours of Z’s, drink enough water, keep active, and maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. Cut down on those energy drinks, sugars, alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes, as all of these are major energy takers.

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5 Reasons it is so hard to quit smoking!

“Quit smoking” is probably the number one new year’s resolution across the world.  A survey has found that 80% of smokers would like to quit the bad habit, but less than 5% are able to quit on their own. So if the desire is there, then why is it so difficult to stop? Here are a few reasons why so many people find it hard to kick their smoking habit.

  1. Discomfort

Because nicotine hi-jacks the dopamine system, it is highly addictive. However, the greater problem with the addiction is the withdrawal. Typical nicotine withdrawal symptoms include: flu-like aches and discomfort, irritability, sleep problems, fatigue, and cravings. It is these uncomfortable feelings which deter people from wanting to actually stop smoking. Most people would rather keep smoking than experience these uncomfortable feelings.

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The mudslide that is depression.

Miekie, a friend of mine is a true athlete.  During his school career he was always  one of the top athletes in the school.  He is always on the lookout for a new sport to practice.  Triathlons and races like the 94.7 is old news to him.

Currently, he participates in ‘warrior races’.  Naturally, he falls in die epic category, which is for the strongest warriors.  The track is only 20 kilometers long, but has obstacles like swinging across a monkey bar, climbing up with a rope over a frame and down again, and dragging tyres around his waist across a field.

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