When Mental Illness Catches Up

As of late, my depressive and traumatic episodes have been really intense. Even so, when mental illness catches up, I know it’s only temporary.

Now that I have logged some serious time in psychotherapy, I can take time to review how far I have come, or haven’t. While I choose to focus on my hard work and progress, I do look at both. Why? Well, if I don’t, how will I evaluate how therapy is helping me overall? My trick here is to not ruminate on what’s not working, and celebrate my gains.

One of the major accomplishments is being able to cope, most of the time; in low- stimulus environments. I achieve this through the use of mindfulness. I can keep going as long as the noise and environment aren’t constantly buzzing with activity. This is of course assuming that I’m having a good day to begin with. It doesn’t always work, but it often does. The key here is “It often does.”

The Way I Deal With Pain

However, lately, I feel like I am losing the war. I am way more agitated than, well, ever. And if that weren’t enough, my depressive episodes are more severe -not good! But am I really losing, or is this what happens when mental illness catches up?

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For me, this is also another benefit of therapy. I have learned that, while I may be experiencing more intense episodes, they are but momentary; they will subside. And it’s true, when mental illness catches up with me, I have always been able to overcome. How? Through the power of acknowledgement. “Okay, so I’m having a really rough go; just give yourself permission to say I am.” Then the next question becomes “Practice your mindfulness skills. Close your eyes, breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth; make yourself aware of where you feel tight in your body, loosen up.” I know that I am not under any real threat, but my body thinks I am, so I call attention to both my mental feeling in the moment and my physical discomfort from it.

So, remember, when mental illness catches up, try not to feel like you failed. Rather, admit to yourself that it is happening, and use coping skills like mindfulness to manage your way through it.

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Jonathan Arenburg
Jonathan Arenburg

Jonathan Arenburg is a mental-health blogger, writer, Wellness coach and published author – appearing in the i’Mpossible’s Lemonade Stand III. He has also been a contributing writer for Mental Health Talk, a column in his local paper. In addition, he has also written for the mental-health advocacy organization Sick Not Weak.

Jonathan has also appeared on several mental health-related podcasts Including: A New Dawn, The Depression Files, Books and Authors, and Men Are Nuts. Since being put off work because of PTSD, Jonathan has dedicated his time to his mental-wellness journey while helping others along the way.

Educated as an addiction’s counsellor, he has dedicated most of his professional life of eighteen years to working with those who have intellectual disabilities, behavioural challenges, and mental illness.

He has also spent fifteen years in the volunteer fire service helping his community.

His book The Road To Mental Wellness goes into detail about his life-long battle with depression, anxiety and more recently, PTSD. In it, he hopes to provide insight on how mental illness cultivates over a lifetime and, if not recognized and treated, how it impacts the entirety of one’s life – right from childhood into the adult years. Jonathan lives with his two children in Nova Scotia, Canada.
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Categories: Depression, Depressive episode, Mental Health

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