As part of Be Kind to Your Mind, we asked young people who've lived with mental illness questions about their experience. Here's what they told us.
The no bullsh*t way that I explain my mental health experience to people is telling them that I had a crap childhood that resulted in trauma.
I continue on by telling them that this trauma resulted in feeling anxious and depressed throughout my high school and that I finally got help after getting to a really low point and since then I have had a complex relationship with understanding and accepting my mental health.
I always make sure to tell them that I’m doing a lot better now and that I have learnt ways of dealing with my bad mental health.
It is not easy. Some days are harder than others and it can make you feel like you’re taking 2 steps back. Every day starts with a conscious decision and there can be many days where those decisions have to keep being made so I can live with a happy and healthy mind.
The no bullshit way to explain my mental health experience is that it was painful, hard and there were often times when I felt that there was no way out.
People often talk about when you notice your mental health deteriorating and how important it is to seek help as soon as possible. This help was something I craved, yet something that was inaccessible to me at the time when I needed it the most. This felt overwhelming and hopeless at times.
Get help. Be assertive. Advocate for yourself. Know your Sh*t. Research about your illness. Get rid of people who don’t support you in your recovery journey. Pick the weeds and keep the flowers!
Stripping away diagnostic criteria, therapy, and medication, my mental health experience has been a hard journey, full of days where I thought there is no point, struggling to feel if there’s anything worth it past the perceptive reality of the current moment.
It has been like trying to climb a mountain – but the path up the mountain is actually a giant treadmill. It’s tough. No doubt.
My mental health experience is an ongoing roller coaster ride. It’s full of ups and downs and twists and turns however, there are the fun moments.
That period of time allowed me to adapt to my circumstances without the responsibilities I have now as a young adult, making my recovery more flexible and time efficient.
I’ve tested a myriad of coping mechanisms and management tools: DBT (dialectical behaviour therapy) over the course of 12 weeks, mindfulness, bullet journaling and refining my diet/exercise.
Mindfulness in particular was difficult to grasp early on however years down the track, I find myself using it on a daily basis.
Distinguishing my sense of self from my diagnosis is what’s most important. I am not bipolar, bipolar disorder does not define me, nor control me.
I am myself, a unique individual just like everyone else, with good qualities and weaknesses. I, like many other people have a permanent medical condition. Mine happens to be a complex mental illness. It does not speak for who I am.
Sure, parts of my experience with bipolar have shaped some of my values, attitude and positive attributes but they are part of a wider story. I am not my disorder and my diagnosis is simply a diagnosis of a medical condition that I manage, and has led me to a variety of unique insights and experiences.