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Climbing the Ladder: How to Get Out of the Hole When You’ve Reached Your Limit with Mental Illness

Coping Strategies for Mental Health

Many people living with a mental illness will hit extreme lows in their lives. They may feel discouraged as they shut themselves off from friends or family, struggle to find work or even refuse all forms of treatment. About one year ago, I hit that low point. I had just moved out of my parents’ house with no money to my name, a worsening mental state and no medical help. Now, I’m starting a career in freelance blogging in order to move in to my first apartment. I wish to help people like me to make a change in their lives.

That being said, you need to want to get better. You can’t pull yourself up without a drive to improve. Sometimes you’ll fall into a deeper hole in which you do not truly wish to improve because you believe it is impossible. In that case, the best course of action is to seek help from a medical professional.

I am not a professional by any standards, nor are my methods an absolute surefire way to improve your life. They are simply stepping stones that you can build off of. It will not be easy to accomplish, and you will most likely still have bad days in the end. This is a journey that I took at the age of 16 with no original plan. You have to really want to improve your life. All I can do for you is give recommendations. Without further ado, here’s my list of ways to improve your life and climb out of the hole that mental illness so brutally throws people into.

Find a People Who Don’t Feel Draining to be Around

This can be a very daunting task when you’re just starting your journey, but it is the absolute first thing you need to do. If you can only find one person, that works as well. Regardless, this person also needs to be willing to help you in your journey. This is your “Safe Person.” The easiest way to do this is to go through your contacts or Facebook friends to see if there’s anyone you recognize who was caring and easy to be around before you fell into the hole. Gently inform this person of the situation and how you would like his or her help. This can be extremely difficult, and I urge you to take your time until you feel ready. If you feel like you have been putting this off for weeks, just press send. The worst that can go wrong is the person will say no. If that happens, simply contact someone else. Chances are you won’t need to, and the first person will be more than happy to help. I started off having one friend by my side. As time went on, his mother became another source of support as I built myself up.

Make a Safety Plan

You will have slip-ups during this journey. That is perfectly acceptable; however, you need to be completely prepared to handle them as they show up. Sit down with your Safe Person or Safe People or start a group chat online if they live far away, and come up with a safety plan. Your safety plan should include things for you to do if you feel yourself slipping again, a list of phone numbers for when you’re in crisis, and a few positive messages at the very least. If you can think of more things to add, you can add them later. My first safety plan was made after coming home from a hospitalization.

Finding a Hobby

This is going to be the thing you fill quite a bit of time with. It’s best to find something that puts a smile on your face and that you feel proud of. If your Safe Person or Safe People notice that you tend to rave about something you do, try to do more of that thing. For me, my hobby was playing Magic the Gathering. My Safe Person started taking me to the hobby shop in town to play, and as I got better I started going more frequently. As your mental state improves, you will find that your list of hobbies begins to grow.

Finding a Job

Finding a job when you have a mentally illness can be extremely difficult. If you experience frequent episodes, you may find that you can’t work a day job at all. If you’re just feeling drained, working part-time may be your best option. I advise to stay away from jobs in fast food or customer service. Customers can come in sometimes with moods that can throw you for a loop, and your managers will be much less flexible with your hours. Your mental health should come first, which is not something these types of workplaces seem to understand, at least from my experience. I worked a part time job in which I only had to assemble bicycles, which was ideal for my situation. If you can’t work a day job, there are plenty of ways you can make money while sitting at your laptop. Some ideas are becoming a transcriptionist, freelance blogger, captioner, or drop shipper.

Fighting Negative Perceptions

The most difficult part of the journey is remaining hopeful for your future. You will have days where you may doubt your ability to improve or accomplish one of the above tasks. It is perfectly valid to feel that way. However, the easiest way to combat these negative perceptions as they come up is to replace them with positive thoughts. There is a type of therapy called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that slowly rewires your brain to think more positively. For example, if you start to think, “I’m never going to get better,” you could replace the thought with, “I may not be able to get better overnight, but someday I will at least be better than I am now.”

Don’t Neglect Yourself

When recovering, it can be difficult to take time to care for yourself, but you need to even if you are not actively relapsing. Keep up with your hygiene. Drink a glass of water when you wake up. Remember to do the laundry. Aim to clean your bedroom once per week. If one day you can’t do these things, don’t act harshly toward yourself.

The road to recovery is a long, difficult one, and you are allowed to have relapse days. Healing takes time and the correct mindset, as well as the right people to be around. Be gentle with yourself. Nurture yourself as you would a flower, and you will find that you have grown.

I’ve been in recovery for one year now. I have my relapses and bad days, but I also know I have come a very long way. I’m beginning to climb out of the hole. With the right mindset and help, you can climb out of the hole too.



Author Bio: Ksawer Buck is a freelancing blogger from Ontario, Canada. He works to share his experiences with the LGBT+ community and improving his own mental health.

Photo by Artem Maltsev on Unsplash

The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.

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