There is no shame in having a mental illness, our moms share their stories

Having a mental illness can be all-consuming. People who suffer from mental illness often feel ashamed of their struggle, making them feel isolated, inadequate and unlovable because they feel differently from those around them.

You feel drained day after day from overcoming obstacles that seem effortless to others, leaving you continually comparing your internal struggles to other people’s external life. It affects your relationships, thoughts, behavior, mood, sleep, and self-esteem.

If this sounds like something you may be experiencing, here are a few tips to help you change your mindset so you can take the appropriate steps towards getting help.

Tips to help you change your mindset

Be kind to yourself

If you suffer from a mental illness, chances are you don’t treat yourself with kindness, which makes it harder to recognize your triggers, respond to your moods, and also stops you from realizing that you do have a choice to seek help.

In order to truly see your current situation, it is important to practice self-compassion. This can be in the form of attending group therapy or information sessions by counselors. Doing this may help you realize you are not alone and help you gain a sense of interconnectedness.

One the moms from our community Mel Flynn shared this advice, “Be kind to yourself and let yourself feel. There is no right way to live or deal with the drama called life and once you accept this and be kind to you the rest happens. Never be too proud to ask for help or too shy to help, we are all playing the life game together and together is the only way we will get through.”

Change your inner voice

Being conscious of what your inner voice is saying is an important step in overcoming the stigma and shame you may feel in having a mental illness. How many times a day do you tell yourself that you’re not capable or good enough?

The more we repeat these beliefs the more they negatively impact on your moods and behaviors. Think of an area in your life where you put yourself down – maybe you can’t keep to certain lifestyle choices or perhaps it’s in your day-to-day functioning as a parent.

For every negative you tell yourself, force yourself to add two positives. It won’t magically make you feel better but it will help reverse the negative thoughts you’ve gotten used to circulating and help your self-esteem rebuild slowly.

Mom Kim O’Neill says, “Reaching out can be hard when you feel down. It’s important that you acknowledge how you feel, know that it is OK to feel how you do and then reach out to someone to talk about it. Even if it’s just a text message to a friend asking to go for a walk. Break the patterns you’re in and you will see improvement.”

Be brave

Denying or feeling ashamed of having a mental illness can also mean you are not willing to deal with painful feelings. By acknowledging you have a mental illness, you may feel your self-identity and the way people perceive you, will change drastically.

While you have no control over other people’s perception, you do have control over your self. If you take the first step in admitting you have a mental illness, you are taking a step towards recovery and a life full of potential, where you are not isolated or left feeling inadequate.

Mom Kerry Yacoumis says, “There are many with the same struggles once you’re brave enough to open up you’ll find out there’s support there.”

Reach out

If you find you can’t change your mindset and feel stuck, visit your GP for a mental health plan or call a counselor who will guide you against the tide of mental illness towards living a more fulfilling life. You have a choice, which life you choose is up to you.

Mom Nicole Taylor offered this insight, “I hate asking for help. I have to think about how I would feel and react if someone close to me asked me for help (I wouldn’t think twice and help them), to realize that I’m denying them the opportunity to help me when I need that. It’s OK not to be OK, but it’s OK to reach out too.”

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