I am who I am today because of the mistakes I made yesterday.
― The Prolific Penman
When a child sticks a fork in an outlet and gets electrocuted, they learn never to do that again. But what if there is no electricity? What if there are no consequences? Or, what if the child likes the near death feeling?
To error is to be human and to learn from these errors is how we grow. But some of us have a difficult time learning from our mistakes. Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Having a mental illness, or comorbidity of disorders, makes learning from our mistakes even more challenging.
Being from a Puerto Rican family where voice projection is a given and volume regulation is a foreign concept, keeping sound under control, particularly if excited, is a problem. “Why are you so loud? I’m right next to you.” For my family and others that grew up in this type of environment, it’s difficult to remember your surroundings and how ostentatious your voice may be when you’re around other individuals whom were raised in quieter households.
Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.
― Morticia Addams
But we just can’t continue living life yelling at people. In order to grow into a productive member of society we need to learn from our faults. Unfortunately, society has a hard time understanding the challenges mental ill people face. The ‘think before you speak’ can be an impossible task. That delay, the filter, between thoughts and saying or doing something stupid may not exist.
So what can we do?
Vent & Release
If you’re mental ill and it’s affecting your life then you should seek professional help immediately. Even if you consider yourself emotional well but you still find your personality, your past, or your lifestyle inhibiting your ability to grow, someone to listen, to let you vent, can be beneficial.
Therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, counselors, etc. are not one-time pick me ups. It can take many sessions to even get to the root of your problem. Issues with parents, inner turmoil, or an inability to adapt to change can take time to identify. Furthermore, the intake, the first session when they gather your history, can release a flood of emotions. I have the type of medical and psychological history that therapist get hard for. With many incidents of trauma my initial consultations are usually double the time required. I’m not bragging, it’s really fucked up and costly.
Friends, significant others, and family also offer an ear to bend. And they’re more cost-effective than professional help. However, keep in mind that they are not trained and may simply be waiting for their turn to talk. But if you can find that one person that you can share your troubles and woes with then don’t be afraid to utilize them and be available for them as well.
Identify & Attack
Make a list of the things that are preventing you from becoming the person you want to be; low self-esteem, emotional intensity, or taking on too many projects that never result in completion. Often we feel frustrated by our lives without actually pinpointing the specifics. Once you know what you’re up against think about and verbalize qualities that remedy these defects. The power of saying positive things not only make you more aware of your goal, but also begin to sink into your subconscious.
Since I have poor impulse control and emotional instability, I want to have WILL POWER. Everyday I say, “I have will power.” Just saying the words out loud makes me feel like I can change. THen I think, “What keeps me in control?” or “What makes me out of control?” Drugs and alcohol make me lose my damn mind, so I stopped using. I stay away from former friends that encourage my bad behavior or whose words hurt me and make my inner turmoil worse.
Accept & Relax
Of course, there may be certain things that are an innate part of your personality. I’m an overly sexual creature, even on Zoloft, my libido does not falter. I’ve come to terms with the stigma that surrounds it and have determined that if I can’t fight it, I’ll fly with it. Smut writing, erotic photography, even teaching my friends a trick or two… I’ve learned to take a trait that use to make me feel shitty about myself and turn it into a positive.
Compulsive liar? Write fiction. Antisocial Personality Disorder? Become a CEO of a Fortune 500. OCD? Organize people’s houses for a living. Find what works for you. Research what careers or activities fit with your innate traits.
Tell me not to do something and I’ll do it with pure defiance.
― Me, circa 2012
I hear what you are saying and I’ll think about it, but it’s my decision to make.
― Me, present day
Remember, you’re not suffering from a mental disorder. You’re enjoying every moment of it. ;p