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Living Life with an asterisk*

Living Life with an asterisk*

Navigating moments with mental illness

According to the National Institute of Mental heath, an estimated 17.3 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 7.1% of all U.S. adults. While an estimated 31.1% of U.S. adults experience any anxiety disorder at some time in their lives. These are staggering statistics and there is a good chance you either face anxiety and or depression yourself or know a friend who does. It often feels like you or that friend are living life with an asterisk by their name trying to find a path that will get them through this “stage” and release the asterisk.

In this series, each post will present a moment most with mental illness face in their week. This will provide a few motivational tips to navigate that moment if you are the one facing it or it will provide a few ways to encourage your friend when you don’t know how to live alongside those facing mental illness.

I failed. What do I do now?

Anxiety and depression often create a cycle of shame. If I don’t get out of bed in time for that appointment, I can’t do anything else. If I failed that assignment from school or work, my work in the future won’t be of any worth. If I let that one friend down, I can’t be a good friend anymore. All of these examples are lies we tend to believe as people living with mental illness. Don’t let it keep you down. We all “fail” from time to time but if we let it keep us down, we can’t prove it wrong. So what do you do now? Just keep swimming (as Dory says in Finding Nemo). If you are running late, as least you made it there. If you missed the mark at school or work, it’s over now and you can make it better next time. Make a to-do list and be proud to check that one thing off. Put on that outfit that makes you feel good, and make the most of your day.

If you are the friend, first of all- thank you for being there. How can you best help? Know that you can not fix what your friend is going through or take it away. You can, however, be there to help them fight to win over the mental illness by encouraging them to get up everyday and make the most of it. If they feel like they failed and unable to tackle the day, speak truth against those lies. Take them somewhere out of the house like a park or a fun sweet treat! Help them make a to-do list for the day and check in later on how they are doing with it. At the end of the day, you need to remember that you can help and encourage them, but you are not responsible. This is important because if you feel responsible, you will get worn out and then not be able to be the support that your friend needs from you.

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