Odd title, you may think, emerging different, what does it mean? Nobody ever really stays the same after a bout of mental illness. You emerge as another person, and you are different from when you went in. You have to learn what you are capable of again and discover new ways to do things.
This article aims to show you a few new ways to handle daily life as you emerge from your mental health problems. If you are still in the grips of an episode, it does get better. But you will be changed, and learning to accept those changes will help you recover.
I won’t make it long as you want to find out about things you can do to move forward. But suffice to say, I have emerged from the cocoon so many times and each time, I have been different. Of course, I have the memories of what I used to be like and how and if only I could do such, I could then return to this former person.
That is not going to happen. I am changed.
Mental illness is a strange fellow, it took away what I deemed to be a successful life, job, house and marriage, but looking back now, I’m pleased I no longer have those things. When I was living that life, I feared losing it; now, I no longer have those fears.
I am on a different path now.
I have bipolar disorder, and it rapid cycles, meaning I can go from feeling on top of the world to being in the cesspit of my inner demons. I write when I’m in between worlds.
When I was living the high life back in the ’90s, I tried to write but was so full of the fear of failure it stopped me. I would start a new work, and then it would evaporate, never to see the light of day again.
Now, I don’t care; I write because I have to and if people like it, great if people don’t, then fair enough. Not everything I write is good, but sometimes it is.
For instance, I would never have written this article five years or two years ago through fear. But now, there is nothing I am fearful about; why? When you reach rock bottom and survive several times, the fear evaporates, you become stronger and braver.
How to Emerge
I’ll stick with the butterfly analogy as it is the easiest one to imagine, although a frog is just as good. After going through mental health issues, there is a sense of awareness many other people have never had, you are gifted, and I did say gifted; you have the ability to reflect.
I’m not big into looking back on the past, I prefer living in the moment, but sometimes you have to look back to see how far you’ve come.
Reflecting on your life, helps you to understand the things which need to change.
One thing is stress; this needs to be taken down to a minimum. We live in a world run on stress, and with Covid and all of its foibles, we are at such high levels at the moment; it would not surprise me if the whole world were reaching for anti-depressants.
Stress needs to be reduced, and I have suggested in other articles about the least stressful jobs. You can read the two I have written; there are twenty businesses you can run yourself.
Reducing Stress in the Home
If you live by yourself, this is easy to address, but if you don’t and have a rambunctious family life, stress will play a big part.
Noise reduction is the first thing I would suggest. On emerging from depression or another mental health episode, you want to reduce stimuli. Noise can create havoc in the brain. It can slow down recovery time. You need a quiet space.
But Lou there are no quiet spaces in my house!
You have to tell those you live with to drop the tv volume down by a couple of notches. For kids to be more aware of noise levels when shouting on games consoles. It would help if you had a place, ideally your bedroom, where you can shut the door for half an hour and practise mindfulness techniques.
If your home really doesn’t allow you to do this, you have to take it outside. People watching is a great way to help. As part of a mental health technique, I often watch people. Especially those carrying bags or dragging a suitcase along. Where are they going? What’s in the bag? I make up all sorts of stories in my head.
Being in a quiet place for a part of the day, will help you emerge quicker into the world after illness.
The level of light your body receives during the day is varied as much of our lives revolve around being indoors; if you work out in the open, this is great news as you are getting your daily dose of vitamin d, but for those of us who spend a lot of time indoors. You need to get out more, even if it is just sitting in the garden or local park.
Simultaneously, you need to reduce light levels on your phone and laptop if you have them, as these will impact your brain. Especially at nighttime, and if you are having trouble sleeping, you need to get red filters on your screens.
If your brain is having to battle noise and light, the chances are that it will be reactive to stress rather than plain active at reducing stress in your body. When it is reactive, it will cause the release of chemicals resulting in the fight or flight effect. When active, it is helping you to think, act and be aware in a positive manner.
Becoming You Again
As stated in the title, becoming you again is about taking away the stress that may have played a part in the reason for your illness in the first place.
Noise and light are only minor stress point, but a job and relationship are big stress points. In our current economic climate, getting a new job may prove tricky, but you can still perform helpful meditations and mindfulness techniques during your lunch break.
If your relationship is causing you stress, you will need counselling, either for the both of you or for you yourself separately. If the relationship is toxic for your own mental well-being and those with kids, you need to remove yourself from it while seeking counselling. I’m not saying end it, but working on your problems together at a distance and meeting for counselling is more beneficial than arguments every day.
You will not be the same after mental health issues; nobody ever is, you can try as much as you like to get back to where you were, but that person is long gone. They no longer exist, time moves on, you are a butterfly now, no longer a caterpillar.
You have to accept the fact that you of yesteryear is a memory. You might have loved being that person, but remember that is the person who became unwell in the first place. Not you now.
You know deep in your heart that life led to where you are now. So it is time to make new plans and begin new adventures. Ones that interest you now. Not the dreams and aspirations you once had, but new ones.
You can change your life as you start your life again and you will have learned many things along the way. I hope the articles on this website will help you to move forward. I talk about food and raisins to jobs and each activity will bring benefit to you in the long run.
Peace & Blessings x