Mental Illness Recovery and Looking for the Good

I was sitting at dinner with my mother and I was talking about how I needed to change the channel from the feeling sorry for me and poor me streaming stations to a more productive Ways to Rebuild My Life.  The thing is I think I switch back and forth between all these channels.  I’m simply trying not to listen to the poor me series that continues to play on and on if I let it.

I know I am not the only person out there who has suffered substantial loss at the hands of a mental illness.  All you have to do is say the words mental illness and one can assume some type of hardship has occurred or continues to occur.  It’s a sickening, cruel illness and there’s nothing anyone can say that will change my mind about it.  It steals silently and loudly.

But there comes a point in time where you have to learn how to live with it.  I like it that NAMI and other organizations point to the fact that those of us with a mental illness can live healthy and productive lives.  It gives me hope that I can live a healthy and productive life.  What they don’t say is how hard the journey can be getting from before a mental illness to after and all the potential destructiveness in between.  I have seen recovery workbooks that demonstrate somewhat of a blueprint for recovery.  They are helpful except where do we turn when the journey gets lonely and painful?  What examples do we have to look at when we start down the recovery path and need other people to shine a light for us?  Where are the stories of people living with mental illness?

I have been a student of bipolar illness for more than thirty years.  I have seen the illness wreck havoc with family members lives and I have lived through the illness taking its’ toll on my own life.  I have turned to books and blogs, support groups and any movie I could watch to give me some insight into how to better cope and deal with my own personal journey.  All of the information has helped me but at the end of the day I wanted more.  I wanted to be able to talk to someone who could set me on the right track.  Someone who could give me hope that my future was going to be bright and productive.  That somehow and someway I was going to make a difference in someone else’s life in a positive way.

So tonight my dinner conversation occurred.  I said, “I need to stop feeling sorry for myself.”  My mother replied, “Yes you do.  You have so much to be thankful for.  Just think about tomorrow being a better day.  Look for the good and you’ll find it.  Just look for the good Amy.”

As simple as it may seem when someone tells you to look for the good it’s not a bad idea to listen.  You can always turn your channel to the feel sorry for me station, except you don’t get very far thinking about the past and what could have been.  Where it’s happening is today and the future you can have by learning to cope with “what is.”  Learning to be alright living with a mental illness.  It’s not easy but it’s worth it.




7 thoughts on “Mental Illness Recovery and Looking for the Good

  1. Very well written. I agree that it’s not easy, but worth it to find a way to be productive in spite of mental illness. I’ve finally given up on dwelling on the past, am trying to make the most of the present.

    1. Hi Robin,
      Thanks for your kind words and your reinforcement about moving forward to the present. I agree with what you said about dwelling on the past. Thanks again and have a great day! Amy

  2. Good job on the in the insight! We always will come to the door of “whoe is me”. Specially, at the times we are in one of the many low cycles. It’s the inter strength of remembering that this too will pass. Reaching out to ones support system in these times to keep from just disconnecting from the world. As, this only digs the hole deeper. The support person just has to be the ear we need to talk to. Most times we are not looking for answers. Just someone to listen while we unload some of our stressors. It’s just good to get it out! I’m currently battling a bad bout of depression. I have reached out & am feeling less stress. Not so much “Whoe is me!” is going on now! Thus, one day at a time! I will make it out of this slup too! Then back to making the best of what I hav & to move on with life.

    1. Hi Amy #1…sorry you are experiencing depression right now. It’s a tough side of the poles to deal with and I can really empathize with you. Glad you aren’t staying in the feeling sorry for yourself mode it’s tough to do but congrats to you for finding healthy ways to cope. Thanks for commenting and hang in there. Wishing you the best, Amy

  3. Hi Amy, you have accomplished so many great things in your life. When you tumble it turns everything upside down. However…you’re so gifted and talented that there are so many more challenges for you that sometimes it is hard to visualize. Keep your priorities straight and keep plugging away one step at a time. One step is an accomplishment. Sherry Gamble

  4. Excellent perspective. I, too, struggle with bipolar illness and have lived with fear and uncertainty. We must remember, though, that mental illness is not the only cross one may bear in life. Life can be difficult with or without mental illness. At the same time, we are loved and receive many blessings whether or not we have a mental illness. As you pointed out, appreciating our blessings, rather than feeling sorry for ourselves is empowering. Not only does it retrain our brains, circumventing depressive thought process, but it enables us to take an active role in shaping our lives, our perspectives, our lives. Thank you.

    1. Hi Kitt,
      Thanks for your comments. Very insightful and a good reminder that we are definately more than our diagnosis. Sometimes I need to be reminded that life is a challenge no matter what cross we have to bear. Thanks again for your comment.

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