Find Your Purpose and Joy

There have been many things I have learned throughout two decades of stumbling, and crashing and eventually living and thriving with mental illness. As we know, acceptance is the first step in recovery. Acceptance comes in many forms. There is the acceptance of your diagnosis and the realizations of losses– some of them temporary and some of them permanent and only time will tell that.

As your world constantly changes, you must accept that your identity and the way people see you and view you may change. That was a hard one for me. Some of my views of how people saw me was caused by my own self stigmatizing and assuming people thought less of me when I had no idea if they really did. I think we all need to be increasingly aware of self stigmatization because it can be damaging and worsen symptoms and recovery. It took me years to figure out that I was self stigmatizing.

One thing to remember is that joy is always possible. Don’t think it is only possible after you get better. Look and search far and wide for the small joys that are available to you. There are some and in fact there are many. They are there.

One key to living well with mental illness is learning how to BE EFFECTIVE IN YOUR PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES – no matter what they are.

You must figure out what your purpose is for that moment in time. There is always a purpose. You always matter and you are always here for a reason.  Maybe it is just to survive this moment because future moments will be better. Maybe it is to give a person a smile and make them feel better.  Maybe your spot in line will change and improve another’s person day and situation for the better. There are so many little things we never think of, but each one is important.

For instance, when you stand up dominoes to align so they will will all strategically fall one after the other after the first one is nudged, each one of those dominoes must line up perfectly for the ripple effect to work successfully. Each one of us is necessary and important for our environments to be successful. We all have a purpose and are necessary dominoes in this life and world. If just one of us is missing or out of alignment, it disrupts our family, group of friends or any setting we are in.

Find your purpose and search for joy. I know living with mental illness makes this seem like it is impossible, but I guarantee that if you choose not to look at all you will definitely never find it. We must stay on the positive side of life. I know this now because I wasted many days, months and years seeing the negative side of life. I realize now that it made much of my life worse. I know today looking back that there were so many beautiful moments and bubbles of joy I missed out on.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” ~Maya Angelou

With recovery there will be occasional setbacks, but the comeback is the important step. After each setback the comebacks become easier. Soon you won’t have so far to travel to come back after the setback. Eventually you will have a beautiful, new and improved destination.  Each day joy and peace will become easier to attain and closer to your everyday existence. It will become part of your of life.

Keep your heart and mind open to the goodness around you. Soon you will find all the goodness and joy that surrounds you. When you find it and hold onto joy you can share it with others. Call someone, visit or send an old fashioned letter, an email or text to brighten someone’s day. When you brighten someone’s day it will help brighten your own day. The ripple effect of sharing joy and love is contagious.

~Written by Susan Walz

“If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.”  ~Maya Angelou

 

Please check out my new memoir SHAME ATE MY SOUL.
I realized how shame was instilled in me at a young age and increased after I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Shame was one of my biggest problems. I needed to get rid of it. So, I did and gave it back to the people who gave it to me. Shame was not mine to bear. That was a huge part of my recovery and healing.
My book is available on Amazon as an Ebook and paperback.

book cover: Shame Ate My Soul by Sue Walz

I really hope you will check out my book.

Thank you.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Walz of My Loud Whispers of Hope

Photo Credit: Featured Image Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

The extraordinarily ordinary moments in-between mental illness exist – I promise

But it does get better. 

Some parts of our lives are really hard, really dark, and when we look back it’s kind of like reflecting on what a long winter felt like when you’d go months without being able to remember what it felt like to feel your toes and fingers because it was so cold, and the sunsets were never there and the sun didn’t make you feel warm and everything was dry and icy-

But it does get better. 

And you won’t see it coming: you won’t notice it happening, the thawing – you won’t notice every day how you’re starting to hum to yourself again or how laughter is coming more easily than it did before or how you’ve started noticing sunsets and feeling sunshine again. 

You’ll just be sitting on your couch at 11 am on a Wednesday listening to traffic and lawn mowers and the neighbours music drinking coffee that’s too expensive but almost worth it with a book you didn’t realized how grateful you were to be reading until right this moment and –

it will be better.

casey-horner-394182-unsplashAnd you’ll suddenly realize that for the longest time you’ve forgotten what it felt like to not be ok, and that you’re excited to do… anything, really. The prospect of doing your dishes or getting started on that assignment or phoning up your parents to say hi or catching up with people you saw only yesterday is actually not a horrible idea, in fact you’re content and grateful for all of it. 

Suddenly your life will dawn on you at a completely ordinary moment, and it will bring with it the realization that you’re not exhausted by the thought of being alive, and that – that is so far from ordinary for so many of us. 

I’m not sure what it feels like to really say it’s normal for me to want to be alive, or to not be completely crippled by the daunting task of quite literally being conscious and getting out of bed and making myself a bowl of cereal, let alone all the other often exhausting activities required to be functional. Feeling kind of like being alive is a cool thing to do, all the time, is not normal for me. 

But it does get better. 

There will always be winters for me – a day, a week, sometimes many more – where I’m tired and my soul is uninterested in the world and it’s both exhausting to be a functional human AND convince myself I actually want to do that at the same time. Those seasons are always lurking, and I can never know when they’re coming or how long they’ll last when they do. 

But that’s ok, because I know that there will be many more ‘ordinary’ Wednesday mornings in my apartment when life will feel like it’s a good color on me and I can’t wait to wear it out into the world. 

Mental illness isn’t a teenager in a 5 bedroom house in ‘Riverdale’ who’s parents fight sometimes and failed a class and it rains all the time. Mental illness is war inside of us, and it’s disingenuous to romanticize it, because it’s ugly, painful, even horrific, impossible to understand from the outside, and even when it’s not happening, there’s always the feeling that it could happen again at any moment. 

joanna-kosinska-140783-unsplashBut it’s good to know from my lived experience, and that of many others, that there will also be peace sometimes, and it will be worth itit is worth it. In an understatement of the century, being depressed sucks, a lot.

But the Ordinary Days where your mind is feeling good about itself are pretty fucking amazing. 

I used to feel sad and angry that I was brought to tears with gratefulness for days that seemed so commonplace for everyone around me, because I felt like I deserved to feel like that all the time and it wasn’t ok that I responded to Normal Moments so dramatically. 

But, that doesn’t help me. Its pretty rough comparing yourself to mentally healthy people,  so, just don’t do that, it doesn’t serve you, and can bring you nothing but more unnecessary anger and pain. Making peace with our lot in life is an ongoing process for me, and I would be lying if I said the whole “accepting what you can’t change will bring you happiness” thing doesn’t REALLY piss me off, because accepting a generalized anxiety disorder and bunch of other really horrible stuff that got shipped in with my dysfunctional brain is actually not going to bring me happiness, but thank you Tumblr, it’s a nice sentiment. 

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I don’t have answers for how to work around that, because it’s something we battle all the time. But, I just wanted to let you know that, despite all of that, your Ordinary Days exist – now, or in the future – and they will be just as real as the wintery difficulties you’re living through now or have in the past. 

Peace exists, and just because you haven’t had your Oh-My-Gosh-I’m-Happy-To-Be-Alive-What-Is-This-Feeling! moment on a Wednesday morning yet, doesn’t mean it’s not coming. 

You’re still kicking, so don’t stop now – because someday you won’t have to kick anything to enjoy your day, I promise. 

– Steph (Hunting Happiness)

The Cure for Depression: Joy

I am not looking forward to this article.

Whoa –what?! Why wouldn’t I want to type about happy things? I’m the expert, dishing out advice. I should be ALL OVER this topic.

I’m not.

I am terrible at happiness. -Aaaannnddd that sentence just proved it.

Instead of the ol’ biblical casting of stones at me, however, I’d like to pipe up and suggest that we all might struggle a bit with the positive side of things. That’s kind of, sort of why we’re looking at solutions for depression, right?

So, with seeking counseling, improving our diet, getting outside, exercising a tad, and perhaps taking medication, let’s Do Something that Brings Us Real Joy.

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Lemme give you an analogy: Right now I am sitting at my computer typing you advice. I can smell something, and it’s not a pleasant sort of something. I am fairly certain this unpleasant odor is coming from the garbage can.

I live in a fancy house with a fancy pull-out garbage drawer thingie with two entire garbage bins so that I can procrastinate taking the mess outside for a really long time (like two days, since I have four children). We’ve been playing a game of smashing the mess down instead of removing it because we’re really good at procrastination.

The garbage needs to get taken out. Why the heck don’t I do it?

  1. I enjoy the stink of stinky things. They remind me that life is full of crap and I shouldn’t forget it.
  2. I’ve read about other people smelling garbage. I feel better knowing I’m not alone and leave comments about how I, too, can smell bad things all day.
  3. Thinking about refuse removal overwhelms me. What if the bags are too heavy? What if they tear when I pull them out? What if, what if, what if?
  4. It’s a really long couple hundred feet out my garage door to the outside cans/bins/etc. I just don’t think I can make it that far.

Didja get the point? Good! You get extra credit. Everyone else (myself included): just insert phrases like negative thoughtsdepressionhiding in the closetfeeling terrible every time I wrote about smelly waste.

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My story sounded silly when I was talking about garbage. I mean, OF COURSE I SHOULD JUST TAKE IT OUTSIDE. But why do we hang onto personal garbage?

Feeling terrible is simply not worth it.

I wrote about why I numb awhile back. Not doing happy things is an activity I participate in because I’m trying to self-protect. I think that not feeling happy will make it so I also don’t feel sad. Instead, I am constantly in a haze of nothingness and still feel sad.

Feeling happy is okay. In fact, it feels good.

Let’s small step out of our stinky, dark corner. First, I want you to think a happy thought. Seriously, Tinkerbell, DO IT. I recommend thinking about a time that you felt happy, even just a little bit. Or, think about an activity you love to do.

Got it firmly in your mind? Now, wave your wand and… Expecto Patronum!

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In the real world, we’re going to take that happy thought and write another one below it. We’re making what’s called a LIST. Yes, I want you to actually put pen or pencil on paper and list them out. Even in today’s technological world, listing helps our primal brains make connections.

Your list may read: eating, reading, me time, skiing, friends, chocolate, gardening, walks, booze, sex, sunlight streaming softly through slatted blinds, and whiskers on kittens. Dude; it’s your list. Make it catered to you and stop worrying that someone will judge you for it.

Now, small step numero dos is to pick one thing on there that you think you can do soon. It is your list, but pick one that gives you REAL JOY (sex and drugs don’t count, sorry). Decide to do it. Today would be ideal, but maybe you’re reading this article at 3 a.m. and water skiing with your friends might be a little lethal in the dark.

I don’t want you to just say you will do it, either. Put it in your phone. Send a text to a responsible person like your mother. Carve out the time that you will do it and then actually do it.

It’s just one thing, I promise.

After completing that thing, recuperate. Then, do something else from your list. Recover. Pick another one and do it. Lather, rinse, repeat.

After you do that first thing, I want you to do me a favor. I want you to come back here and comment on this here blog post. Tell me what you did (unless it’s classified). You get extra internet credit if you tell the class how you felt afterwards.

Let’s find real joy, together.

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This has been part of our tips to help cure depression. Tune in next time, to read about service.

unsplash-logoBlaise Vonlanthen
Pixabay
Pexels
unsplash-logoSharon McCutcheon

Tabling Our Vices

Is it possible to table our vices for the day? Enjoy waking up in our own beds, the softness of the sheets and warm spot we created from our slumber is enough to bring a smile to our face. That smile spreads as our toes touch the cool floor and our eyes begin to focus on the sun peeking through the shades. Today is going to be a good day: echoes through our thoughts and vibrates through our body. Take a deep breath in, coffee/tea/water/food, whatever nourishes you in the morning is waiting to be unwrapped and presented. Get up, throw your blankets over the mattress to resemble a made bed, then head to the kitchen. Today is going to be a good day.

We have made the first step, and it’s a big step. Knowing today is going to be a good day. What journey will we seek? A movie, a hike, a rummage through a used book store, a coffee or tea at the local joint, a chat with a friend, a game of croquet [because we never play and it might be fun], finding a piece of old furniture to paint, anything that gets us moving and gets us going today. Today is going to be a good day. It might not be a great day, or the best we have ever had in our life. It’s just going to be a good day.

When the sun begins to tuck itself in for the day, we make a final attempt. Today is going to be a good day. The day isn’t over yet. Night may cast itself over our heads, but we are still awake. The journey continues. No matter if we change into our pajamas [maybe we never changed out of them], or we throw on our nice shirt and head out to meet a friend, we know that we are still making today a good day.

Our head finally hits the pillow and the day is done. Maybe we couldn’t table all of our vices for the day, but we made an effort. Tomorrow is going to be a good day. 

Fingers To Sky