I’m not going to start this post with a grand statement telling you that positive thinking can change your life. You cannot think yourself out of a mental illness, or simply decide to be happy all the time. But recently, positive thinking has been making a big impact on my life. Sounds lame, I know, but hear me out.
Recently I’ve been really down, so down that it’s been affecting my life, and the lives of my close friends. In the past I’ve been the kind of person who feels a lot of self-pity when feeling down, but in the last few weeks something has changed. I’m sick of feeling sad all the time, sick of having no motivation and sick of feeling exhausted from just being alive.
So I made a change. I forced myself to do things – to actually do some work, to actually go to the gym. Our willpower is far far greater than we give it credit for. And I felt better when I’d done it – like actually really better. People often equate mental illness to physical illness, for example having a broken leg – and I wholeheartedly agree with this. However, when you break your leg, a doctor doesn’t tell you never to walk on it again. When the cast comes off, you’re told to slowly try putting pressure on it again. The same should go for mental illness, you have to really want to heal and work at it in order to get better.
Now, I’m not saying that if you’re suffering from a mental illness, you can just ‘think yourself better’ at all, or that you’re not trying hard enough. This is more advice for people who feel down a lot, unmotivated or stuck in life. It’s normal not to want to get better sometimes. Mental illness becomes your version of normal – the sadness is almost comforting. But one day, out of the blue, you may come to realise that actually, you don’t want to feel this way any more.
In that case, start actively trying to take control of your life. Forcing yourself to do things – little things – is a huge step. Even something as small as going to the shop down the road if you have anxiety, or forcing yourself to go meet a friend for coffee can have a huge impact. It’s scary as hell, and you may fail the first 2, 5, 10 or more time. But the time you succeed, the time you win the battle, will be a massive step in the right direction.
If you take anything from this post – take this: you have to focus on winning each battle, and before you know it you’ve won the war
‘What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls the butterfly’