I’ve debated whether or not to write this post for a few weeks now. It’s a hard topic to bring up since it hits home for so many of us, whether because of our own struggles or those of a loved one. Also, I am not an expert on the broad range of problems that many of you deal with on a daily basis. That said, I want to share some of the blessings that have come into my life through my own struggles with mental illness.
Yes, blessings. I know when the dark times hit, it can be almost impossible to see blessings and good things in my life, but when the dark clouds finally let in a little sunshine, I’m amazed out how much help I’ve received along the way.
Friends who called because they thought of me.
A husband and mom that show patience and love even when I’m not the nicest person.
And more tender mercies from a loving Savior than I can count.
On top of those in-the-moment blessings, there are many things I’ve learned that have provided some great insights to my life and the way I try to live.
The first thing I’ve learn is that balance is essential to my health. Whenever one aspect of my life—church responsibilities, motherhood, writing goals and work, relationships with others, etc.—gets out of balance, my whole life can get thrown into a downward spiral. Now, equal balance at all times in all areas is impossible. I’ve tried to do that enough to know! However, I’m starting to recognize when one area of my life needs more focus and when it’s taking too much from me and I need to shift to something else, or bring things into a better balance.
I’m also learning to say “no”. While I would love to be that woman who can do it all, I understand that my reservoir of energy and my overwhelmed threshold is limited. Some days I have more than others. So, I try to make time for those things that are most important to me—my family, service to the Lord, writing, and deep friendships. Other things I often have to let go, even if it is something I really wanted to do. That doesn’t mean I’ll never do it, but I realize it may have to wait until I don’t already have a full plate. Sometimes I schedule these things in at a later date, if possible, to make sure it is one of the things I make room for in my life when I’ve met my current obligations. At least that is what I strive for, but more often than not I try to pile my plate high and then drop everything because I couldn’t handle the weight.
Which brings me to my last lesson for this post, letting go of perfectionism and comparison. I still fail at this most days. Part of me can’t understand why I can’t just be better, faster, whatever. I know what I want out of life, I know what I need to do to get there, let’s just get it done! Life, unfortunately, doesn’t follow my plan. Ever! Sometimes things go better and sometimes, well, they don’t. I’m having to learn to accept my best efforts for that moment. Maybe that is better than the last effort I gave, and sometimes, well, it isn’t. But it is my best effort, not someone else’s. Instead of looking at everyone else’s awesome accomplishments and beating myself up over my lack of progress, I need to celebrate my daily victories. Sometimes my victory is writing a novel in a month, and sometimes, well, you get the picture.
So, whether you suffer from mental illness or not, let yourself be human. It’s okay. We all have bad days, weeks, yes, even sometimes months or years, but they will not last forever. Things will get better.
This week try to maintain the balance that works for you, let go of the things you don’t have room for right now, and celebrate your daily victories. You are amazing!