Did you know that 46.4 percent of all Americans will experience mental illness sometime during their life? That’s what I’d call an interesting fact if it weren’t so depressing.
If you’re one of the (roughly) 43.8 million Americans that will experience mental illness this year and you cope with that illness every day — well done. Not everyone understands how challenging it can be to be at war with your own mind, but you’re doing it.
There’s still a lot of misinformation around mental illness. Many people won’t ever experience it, the lucky, well-adjusted jerks, and that can cause many misunderstandings. Some people will experience a trauma that causes PTSD while someone else standing beside them will walk away unscathed. There is no knowing what will trigger it, whether it’s a blend of trauma, genetics, and brain chemicals that causes these issues. Many people have questions about mental illness — our brief overview may help you understand it a little better.
Simply put, a mental illness is a condition that causes changes in your emotions, thinking, or behavior. They can cause disruptions and distress in your family, work, and social life. Mental illness can be short-lived or chronic, and it can be caused by specific situations or result from a chemical imbalance or genetic condition. Unfortunately, some people will never know what caused their mental illness because we are still researching them.
The most common mental illnesses are depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and bipolar disorder. PTSD, TBI, and bipolar disorder are the most common among veterans.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is when a traumatic event continues to bother you for anywhere from weeks to years after the event. PTSD can manifest itself in many different ways. For example, you could relive the event repeatedly in your head, or you may experience nightmares, sleeplessness, numbness, or sleeplessness. These symptoms cause disruptions in your everyday life, and you may begin to withdraw from friends and family.
Those with depression can experience feelings of guilt, low self-esteem, and unworthiness. In addition, those suffering from depression tend to separate themselves from others and keep themselves isolated.
The Department of Defense reported more than 375,000 Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) cases between 2000 and 2017 among U.S. forces serving worldwide. Any blow to the head can cause a TBI, and this injury can affect how you act, think, and feel. The results may be anywhere from mild to severe, but a TBI can affect your behavior, physical functions, ability to sleep, and ability to think.
Managing your day-to-day life can seem overwhelming if you’re living with mental illness. Many of the steps we’ll discuss may sound simple but are actually challenging in practice.
I’m going to start by saying, get therapy. Seriously, everyone goes to therapy these days, and if you don’t want a young person to roll their eyes and go “OK Boomer” when you suggest therapy isn’t for you, just go. As we begin to recognize that attitudes around mental health need to change, the approach to therapy has changed as well.
Getting help is nothing to be ashamed of — in a sense, it’s like going to a mechanic for your brain. If your coolant were low in your car, you wouldn’t drive it until it caught fire. Likewise, when your serotonin or dopamine is low, you should go to the brain mechanic to get it topped up before it becomes a crisis.
Maintaining a positive relationship with your mental health is something you may need to work on. Some people were dealt a bad hand, and their brains don’t make the chemicals we need to function and feel good. Other people may have seen or experienced something that caused lasting damage. More still may experience an undue amount of constant stress that causes a temporary problem they need help coping with. None of these situations is anything to be ashamed of — regardless of whether you’re experiencing depression, PTSD, or burnout.
If you have specific hurdles that make you feel overwhelmed, incapable or stressed, who says you have to do them the way everyone else does? Sometimes the solution to a problem is not to keep trying to be like everyone else but to embrace your differences.
Are you too emotionally drained to make a healthy meal at the end of the day? We’ve all been there occasionally and have ordered take-out instead of cooking. If this is a daily occurrence, though, it may be costing you financially and physically. If you have the energy to cook on Sunday but not on weekdays, you may want to try preparing your meals for the week ahead of time, freezing them, and reheating them.
Or cut your vegetables and fruit as soon as you get them home from the grocery store. That way, you can grab a handful and snack on them when you’re feeling hungry. It’ll save you from having to constantly think about how to incorporate all your dietary needs into a single meal and let you still get that healthy balanced nutrition that your brain and body need.
There are workarounds for many situations, and finding creative ways to avoid triggers is a fantastic way to challenge yourself and live a more fulfilling life.
People living with addiction get sponsors to help them through the process of getting sober. People who struggle with weight loss who have a weight loss buddy are five to seven times more likely to succeed than someone going it alone. Companies that implement a buddy system in the workplace for new employees see higher morale, lower turnover, and increased results from their new hires.
What does this mean for your mental health? It means you should grab a buddy and hang on. Peer support for people living with severe depression has been shown to decrease suicidal ideation. Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System developed a pilot program for veterans coping with PTSD to be paired up with a peer support program that helps them connect with someone who knows what they’ve been through.
Don’t go it alone — buddy up for safety.
Veterans’ mental health issues have been a known concern for many years. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides information on mental health and offers benefits to cover some or all of the costs for mental health treatment. Other private organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Wounded Warrior Project also provide resources for veterans.
While there is no definitive proof that CBD can help your mental health, it doesn’t hurt it. By that, I mean that CBD promotes balance in your body, which can help you maintain an overall healthy lifestyle. You can assist the internal equilibrium your system craves with endocannabinoids like CBD. If you aim to achieve homeostasis with diet, exercise, and self-care, CBD from Spirit Peak Organics is something you should add to your routine.