I’ve thought about living with mental health issues from a variety of perspectives. I try to view it like this: living with bipolar disorder is something that I do. I manage the symptoms of my mental illness and I live my best life. Every person has problems or challenges they deal with. Life is funny, and we can’t predict what it throws at us. We are sometimes at life’s mercy. It’s difficult to cope with what life throws at us at times, but we have no choice but to roll with it. There are days when I am frustrated with myself when I want to do more than I feel capable of. There are moments when I want to give up and stop trying. There are days when I don’t know what to do with myself or my brain for that matter. When my mind seems to be driving the car and I’m sitting in the backseat waving my hands asking to take an exit off the highway. My mind can’t hear me because it’s about to drive off the road and potentially crash into a tree. Eventually, I’m able to climb over the front seat and grab the wheel. I kick my mind out of the driver’s seat and take control of the situation. My mind is still in the car, we’ve just traded places. My mind’s in the backseat and I’m driving the damn car.
I will be managing the idiosyncrasies of my brain for the rest of my life, as all human beings have to do. Everyone has something, each person deals with unique life challenges. Whether that means managing a mental illness or coping with another life challenge, we’ve all got something to deal with. But, we can still live kick ass lives. For example, today I am having a hard brain day. Still, I am going to see my friend Michelle (of Schizophrenic NYC). We’re going to Buffy The Vampire Slayer trivia in NYC. That distracts me from the fact that my mind is trying to have a party that I’m not invited to.
The title of this post is “be the best version of yourself.” What I mean by this is that we can try our hardest to do the things we love in life. Our brains are going to do things that we don’t particularly like or approve of. It’s like when someone says something that is critical or that you don’t like; you can’t control what other people do or what they think about you. The same thing applies to your brain. You can’t control the thoughts in your brain, but what you can do is find a way to work with them rather than against them. When you’re able to do that you’re winning at life.
I’ve found that therapy has helped me become a better version of me. It’s difficult to change when you’re trying to do it by yourself. This BetterHelp article talks about how to find a decent therapist if you’re interested in going that route. I encourage people to check out therapists in your area on Psychology Today as well. The reason I recommend therapy so assertively is that an outside person who is looking at your objectively can guide you and help you to become the best version of yourself. I don’t want you to think about it in a perfectionistic way. Think of it like this: you can work on yourself so that you’re better able to enjoy your life.
What about you? How do you become the best version of yourself? What helps you live your best life?
-Sarah Fader, CEO, Stigma Fighters
We deal with dual diagnosis (mental health and addiction) at our drug & alcohol treatment center in Central Florida. The majority of the guys that come through our men’s facility have some diagnosed symptoms and/or mental health disorders (bipolar being the most common). Unfortunately, most of these “symptoms” come from the effects of substance abuse. It is like you said, we teach these guys to be the best versions of themselves by giving them a toolkit to use in their daily lives in order to combat addiction, mental health issues, and life’s day-to-day struggles. Some come to our program on medication and sometimes they leave without it and vice versa. Mental health is certainly a real thing, and without the right attitude, tools, and guidance it can lead to a poor quality of life or worse.
I found your site shortly after this blog I wrote about the stigma around substance abuse and addiction. It can be found on our site at https://serenityspringsrecovery.com/your-stigma-my-addiction-disease/. This is a great blog for your site, I think so please let us know what you think. Lastly, I just want to thank you, Sarah, for this amazing article – it stood out on the home page here because of what we do at Serenity Springs Recovery Center. There is certainly a better way of life if one is suffering from mental illness and/or addiction. Having a positive mindset, staying present, and having faith are definitely key factors of overcoming the disease of addiction or mental illness and enjoying life!!