I would like to welcome the newest member of our writing team, Kaity Marie Baldwin. In her first post with us, she talks about taking responsibility for one’s own mental health. Thanks for sharing with us, Kaity!
It took me a long time to realize how lucky I was: a psychiatrist, a therapist, medication. All of these arranged in my life to provide the support I so desperately needed but wished I didn’t. Who wants to see a psychiatrist for the rest of their lives? Who wants to need therapy sessions? Support can sometimes be a reminder of why you need it, and it makes you feel so helpless.
Until you decide to be your biggest supporter. Crushed under the weight of so many people helping me, it was hard (still is sometimes) to claim that responsibility for my own. I felt like a patient, like I was sick. And the thing is, as long as I let others do all the work of keeping me healthy, I was. I was a victim of my disorder and not the manager of it. I will always need that safety net of doctor and therapist, and always medication, but now, for me, that safety net is one that I keep in place by my own efforts, for when I need it most.
Responsibility for yourself can be hard to claim when you’re shuffled from one doctor to another, fed one pill after another, but it is essential in making that giant leap from victim of your illness to manager of it. For me it started small, just taking care of myself in little ways that helped me gain control over parts of my life. I made a morning ritual of shower and hair and make-up, picking out an outfit, matching body sprays to my mood, every morning, until I owned that time in my life. Next it was bedtime. I used to be a late night (3am or 4am) person, and would often not sleep at all, no matter my mood. So I instituted an early bedtime that felt horribly unnatural at the time but which I couldn’t do without now. I’m working now on exercise, because if my mood is even a little off I stop training or working out altogether, and then when it comes time to pick it back up again I’m completely out of shape.
There are always, always, more areas in our lives that we can conquer, take control of and make our own. Even doctor visits can be under our control if we prepare, educate ourselves, and come in with practical problems and questions. We are not bound to be patients forever, trapped under our disorders. We can take control, one small piece at a time.