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From Mental Health Struggles to Hopeful Recovery

Will mental health get better?

This is a question I have heard from more than one client who has stepped into my office. So often there is a great fear surrounding the unknown and a desperate hope for things to improve when it comes to mental health.

Let's take a look at one client who shares their story anonymously to get a better understanding of how mental health can be transformed from a struggle into hopeful recovery. It's a story of resilience, perseverance, and the undeniable truth that mental health can indeed get better.

Battling the storm

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 20% of adults in the United States experience mental illness each year, and I found myself squarely within that statistic. Here I am—I'm standing in the eye of a raging storm, surrounded by swirling thoughts of anxiety, depression, and self-doubt.

My relationships are falling apart, my grades are dropping, and I know I should care more but I just feel... I don't know... ambivalent? Would that be the right word?

I get on Instagram and TikTok and I see lives that don't look like mine. I know I spend WAY too much energy comparing myself to others.

Why can't I be vacationing all over Europe right now?

Im poor and in my late 20s... how has this peer of mine (8 years younger than me...) already made more money than me...and they're living their dream?!?

Why, what if, this sucks, it's not fair. etc.

So, it's easier to numb out, right? Just not care and push my emotions further beneath the raging storm until I don't notice them at all.

It's too much. And don't get me wrong, I'm happy for those people achieving their dreams, but I acknowledge that I can't regulate my emotions and stop overthinking the negatives of why I'm not achieving those things right now.

The Turning Point - Seeking Help

This is what I was thinking when I finally decided to start therapy. I didn't want to, but I was tired of feeling overwhelmed and burdened by all the people around me who seemed to be living it up.

Research from the World Health Organization reveals that globally, 75% of individuals with mental health disorders do not receive treatment. I've struggled with anxiety and depression since I was a teen, but I always felt like I could deal with it on my own. I guess I decided to reach out to therapist because...well, to be honest, I am not entirely sure. Maybe it was a glimmer of hope. Maybe I didn't want to be part of that statistic.

I was finally ready to embark on a journey to recovery.

Finding Silver Linings

As I delved into therapy sessions, I discovered nuggets of wisdom and strategies to navigate the stormy seas of my mind. One study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that psychotherapy significantly reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety, offering me a lifeline of hope amidst the turbulence.

With each passing day, I began to witness small victories – moments of clarity, bursts of laughter, and a newfound sense of resilience. Research from the American Psychological Association highlights the remarkable capacity of individuals to adapt and grow in the face of adversity, underscoring the power of the human spirit to overcome even the darkest of times.

With my therapist, we found 5 things that really helped me:

  1. Prioritize your social life. At the end of the day, we are social beings. Socializing with friends, family, and people you love is way more important than work, money, or anything else. This is what keeps you fulfilled.

  2. Reduce your screen time. Doomscrolling on social media is more than just a time suck. It’s a soul-sucker. Constant negative content, comparing yourself to others, and wasting hours and hours every day. I use BePresent to keep my screen time low, and app that uses gamification to help motivate you to have a healthy and intentional relationship with your phone.

  3. Cook. It’s healthier, but it’s also makes your meals more enjoyable and meaningful. And it’s a great break from all the overwhelming aspects of life. I know it takes time and can be difficult, but cooking at least some of your meals during the week goes a long way. There’s a great app called Parsnip that makes learning to cook extremely easy and fun.

  4. Get as much sunlight as possible. Our mood is very much affected by the weather. That’s because we are sun beings - the sun gives us energy. The more time you spend in the sun, the happier you are going to be.

  5. Stop caring about things that don’t matter. Now this is obviously way easier said than done. But we waste so much time worrying about things that simply do not matter. There’s a great book that completely changed my outlook on things called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. Highly highly. recommend.

The Road Ahead - A Beacon of Hope

Now, as I reflect on my journey, I am filled with gratitude for the progress I've made and the lessons I've learned along the way.

Mental health may be a journey fraught with twists and turns, but with the right support and mindset, it is indeed possible to emerge stronger, wiser, and more resilient than ever before.

If you're facing mental health challenges, know that you're not alone. Reach out for support, whether it's through therapy, support groups, or trusted loved ones. Your journey to recovery begins with a single step.


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